On June 14, 2017, a gunman walked onto a baseball field at Virginia’s Eugene Simpson Park, opening fire on politicians, and wounding House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others.
The representatives had been practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. James Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old man, asked a passing congressman—South Carolina’s Jeff Duncan—whether Republicans or Democrats were on the field practicing. Once he received confirmation that the Republican representatives were the ones playing ball, Hodgkinson fired off 60 rounds into the unsuspecting elected officials.
A call to police went out shortly after 7 as the political officials scrambled for cover. When officers arrived on the scene, they exchanged fire with the suspect, running towards him while dodging the spray of bullets, and eventually killing him. Unfortunately, Hodgkinson’s damage had already been done.
Subsequent investigations revealed Hodgkinson as a man with a clear hatred for Republicans. His social media profiles were filled with extremely liberal views, and he had even volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign during the 2016 election. He had arrived at the field in a white van—he was living out of it—with his legally purchased rifle and a list of six conservative members of congress, presumably his targets.
Just one day later, the planned game went on. 24,959 tickets sold, a record-breaking amount for the game that has been played annually since 1909. More than $1 million was raised for the charity. Ivanka Trump, her family and Secretary Steve Mnuchin presented a $50,000 check to the charity.
Scalise, who was shot in the hip, suffered from critical wounds. He underwent several surgeries, and faced a lengthy recovery, before returning to congress on September 28 to a standing ovation. The other victims included Capitol Police Special Agent Crystal Griner, lobbyists Matt Mika and Zack Barth and a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams of Texas.