By Abrahm Hurt
INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly had just walked off the baseball field and was getting ready for batting practice when U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle said, “Oh my God.”
Donnelly and other Democrats were practicing in D.C. for a charity baseball game against Republicans when they heard of an attack on GOP congressmen in Alexandria, Virginia. Rep. Steve Scalise and four others were hospitalized after being injured from gunfire. The gunman, identified as James Hodgkinson, died from his wounds.
“Mike immediately went out to the field and called everybody in and brought everybody into the dugout, told everybody what had happened,” Donnelly said. “We kind of put our arms around each other and said a prayer for our friend Steve and for the officers and for the aid and for everyone else who was injured.”
Freshman Republican Sen. Todd Young, who served in the House of Representatives for six years, said he was initially concerned for his friends and colleagues.
“I am relieved to learn that the injured, including Whip Scalise, will be okay and I thank God for the quick actions of the Capitol Hill Police officers,” Young said in a statement.
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, a Republican who represents the 9th District stretching from Johnson County south to Ohio River, said the events were “cowardly” and clearly targeted members of Congress.
“My thoughts and prayers remain with Majority Whip Scalise and all those injured during today’s horrific shooting,” he said in a statement. “I also want to thank the United States Capitol Police for their quick reaction and their dedication to keeping all Members of Congress safe day in and day out.”
Donnelly said he didn’t know the motive of the attacker or if the attack was politically charged.
“I don’t know if it says much about the political climate, it just says that there’s an awful lot of challenges out there and our job is to try make our country a kinder place where we remember each other’s humanity,” he said.
The Congressional baseball game is a tradition that dates back to 1909. In recent years, the event has raised $600,000 for charity. Donnelly said he developed many of his friendships with Republicans because of the events surrounding the baseball game.
Despite the attack, Donnelly said he thought it would be appropriate to still play the game.
“We don’t want to be seen as folks who stand down and worry about these kinds of things,” he said. “Our job is to try to help do what’s right for the country to make the country stronger and the last thing the country needs to see is us kind of walking away when we have a chance to do something that benefits others.”
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.