U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, was at a congressional baseball practice when a gunman opened fire on the field, wounding one congressman, an aide and security officers.
In a written statement, Kentucky’s junior senator said he is “shaken but unharmed.”
“Many people likely would have died this morning if not for the bravery of the Capitol Police,” Paul said. “My thanks to them are inadequate but heartfelt. They never hesitated to put their lives on the line to save everyone. Please pray for those who were injured.”
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Paul said “everybody probably would have died” if Capitol police hadn’t been there. The security officers wouldn’t have been at the Virginia field if Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., wasn’t there. Scalise gets a security detail because he’s part of the leadership of the U.S. House.
“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Paul said, praising Capitol police. “We had no weapons and no place to hide.”
Paul said he heard 50 to 60 shots, and the shooter was near third base. Paul was taking one last round in the batting cage outside of and to the right of the field when the shots started. He also was behind a fence. About three minutes earlier, Paul had been batting at home plate on the field.
“I was in a lucky spot,” he told MSNBC.
While the shooting continued, Paul hid behind a tree with an aide who had scrambled over a fence to Paul.
Paul said he saw Scalise dragging himself to the outfield to try to escape. Scalise was wounded in a leg.
Paul said he couldn’t see the shooter or a gun. He and the aide left in a car that drove past with another congressional aide at the wheel.
The GOP had been practicing at the field for about two months, Paul said. Practice was held from about 6:15 a.m. to 8 a.m. The team was made up mostly of representatives, with a few senators.
Other election officials from Kentucky also issued statements following the shooting.
“I know the entire Senate will join me in echoing the sentiments of the president this morning,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. “We are deeply saddened. We are concerned for all those injured. We will keep them in our prayers, we will continue to send them every wish for a quick and full recovery.
“We are grateful for all those who stepped in to help: those practicing on the field, the first responders, and of course the Capitol Police Officers on the scene. We are deeply indebted for their service, we again salute their continuing and unfailing bravery on behalf of the Capitol community. The Congressional Baseball Game is a bipartisan charity event. I know the Senate will embrace that spirit today as we come together in expressing both our concern and our gratitude.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, said he and his family “offer our thoughts and prayers to my good friend House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, his wife Jennifer and their children, as well as to my other colleagues, the staff members and law enforcement officers affected by this morning’s shooting and to their families. We pray for their full and speedy recovery.”