Texas congressmen recount baseball practice shooting
At least two Texas lawmakers and a Texan staffer were on the field when a man opened fire on republican baseball practice in Alexandria, VA Wednesday morning.
Representative Roger Williams (R-District 25) coaches the team. Representative Joe Barton (R-District 6) is the team's manager.
Williams' staffer Zack Barth was shot in the leg but is expected to recover. Williams -- who was not shot -- was wheeled off the field after injuring his leg and ankle in the chaos.
"When I got into the dugout...it wasn't 10 seconds, then Zack had come running in from the outfield and we landed in each other's arms. He held me. I held him," said Williams. Williams recalled another lawmaker took his belt off to make a tourniquet and stop Barth's bleeding.
Texas congressman Joe Barton, the team's manager, heard gunshots then saw a man shooting.
"He shot at Trent Kelley our third baseman. He shot at Steve Scalise our second baseman. He hit Steve Scalise," said Barton.
Barton's sons were there too. Both of them were uninjured.
"Some of us were in the dugout. Some of us were on the ground. I was behind the dugout. My son Jack got under an SUV and he was very brave," said Barton. He believes quick police work saved lives.
"There were dozens -- if not hundreds -- of shots fired. It was scary," said Barton
Wednesday evening Williams recounted the morning's events. He thanked capitol police who sprung into action saving lives. He was also adamant that playing the congressional baseball game Thursday is more important now than ever.
"This is America. The greatest country in the world and if you punch us, we will punch back, and we're going to play baseball tomorrow," Williams said. The charity Congressional Baseball Game has been played for more than 100 years.
A Facebook video from April shows Williams at batting practice. Williams' former staffer Vince Zito shared the video with CBS Austin. Zito said, until three weeks ago, he was driving Williams to practice four to five days a week at 6 in the morning.
"These guys voluntarily take time out of their mornings to come practice and they practice every single morning that congress is in session," explains Zito. "This is a bipartisan cause to help local DC charities, and it's just an absolute shame that this happened," Zito added.
Zito said it's not uncommon for passersby to stop and watch practice but very few do. He explained, security at the field is purely there for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
"Normally it's about three capitol police officers that show up in one of those traditional black Chevy Suburbans and they're just kind of there on the scene making sure everything's okay," Zito explained.
However, Wednesday that role was a life-saving one. Two capitol police officers were shot returning fire at the suspect. Williams became emotional recalling their heroism.
"There could have easily been 25 deaths or more today," Williams said. "But officers Griner and Bailey prevented that and me and my family will forever be grateful," he said choking back tears.
"If Congressman Scalise was not there this morning, then it's my understanding that capitol police wouldn't be there and it could have been a much worse situation," said Zito.
Not all members of congress have security because of the expense and many preferring their privacy. Still, the security provided for one saved many others.
Williams said he expects there will be a future conversation about improving security measures for congress members -- especially when large groups of elected officials are together.