Colorado U.S. Reps. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter at field near congressional baseball shooting

Authors: Erin Prater, Peter Marcus, Joey Bunch, Ernest Luning - June 14, 2017 - Updated: June 15, 2017

Police and emergency personnel are seen near the scene where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. was shot during a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Colorado U.S. Reps. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter were practicing with Democrats on a different baseball field when dozens of shots were fired Wednesday at a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.

The shooting wounded Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and at least four others in what witnesses called a deliberate attack. The shooter, identified by The Washington Post as a 66-year-old Illinois man, James T. Hodgkinson III, was wounded by Capitol police, who fired back.

Hodgkinson is dead, President Donald Trump said in an address Wednesday morning.

There were not immediate reports of fatalities. Scalise’s wounds were serious but not believed to be life-threatening.

Polis and Perlmutter – who are both running for governor in Colorado – were with Democrats at a field about two miles away Wednesday morning. Capitol police held the Democrats in a dugout as a security precaution for about 45 minutes.

“What a crazy morning,” Polis said in an interview with Colorado Politics. “Nobody knew what it was, nobody knew if there was a live shooter coming after the other team, our team.”

Polis, from Boulder, said Democrats gathered in a circle and said a prayer for Scalise and for the Capitol police and staff who were involved in the shooting.

No Colorado Republicans are on the baseball team that was directly involved in the shooting.

The two teams had been practicing for about two months for an annual charity game, which Polis has participated in since he was elected in 2008. Democrats and Republicans play against each other to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Boys and Girls Clubs and other charities.

Democrats learned of the shooting from their team’s coach, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania. At the Democrats’ field at the time were two Capitol security officers in plain clothes. They immediately held Democrats in place in the dugout and told lawmakers to shelter until additional security would arrive. A SWAT team arrived to secure the perimeter before allowing people to return to their vehicles.

Responding to speculation that the attack may have been motivated by partisan politics, Polis said, “It doesn’t matter. Republicans and Democrats both bleed red.”

Polis called Scalise a friend and offered his prayers to his family.

“It shook all of us up …. It’s even more of a shakeup for Republicans who were at that practice. For us, hearing about this and being held in place and not knowing what’s going on, we’re shaken up. I can only imagine how even those who weren’t shot must be very shaken up, and of course the victims and their families.”

Perlmutter, from Arvada, had rode his bike to the practice in the morning.

“It was just a nice morning, we were having a good practice, and then all of a sudden we were called to the pitching mound. I thought we would get some instructions for tomorrow night’s game, and then a couple of plain clothes officers were there and then we get this word that there was this shooting at the Republican practice and we all went, ‘What! No!'”

Perlmutter said before the news broke he was in centerfield, kidding around with other teammates on the field and encouraging colleagues who were taking batting practice.

“It’s something I’m still processing. Obviously it’s got me pretty upset…” Perlmutter said. “There’s still some element of shock that I’m having. I go through shock and I go through different kinds of emotions about this.”

Perlmutter reflected on his “Government in the Grocery” meetings, in which he meets with constituents in grocery stores. He said after Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011 outside a grocery store in Arizona, greater security measures were taken at his “Government in the Grocery” meetings.

“Partisan, not partisan, a good Democrat got shot and hurt badly then; a good Republican got shot (today), hopefully he’s not hurt badly. Whoever gets on a partisan rant, I can’t even understand it.”

Polis tweeted Wednesday morning that the Democrats’ practice had been canceled, stating, “Thoughts and prayers w my Republican baseball friends this morning. Dem practice cancelled [sic] holding in dugout w security.”

Congressional votes are canceled today, Polis later tweeted.

Perlmutter also took to Twitter Wednesday morning, saying he was “deeply saddened” by the shooting

“I never expected something like this to happen,” he tweeted.

In a statement, Perlmutter later expressed shock at Wednesday’s events, saying he never could have fathomed what was to come on his commute to baseball practice.

“I was thinking this morning while riding my bike to baseball practice about how great this game is for charity and how normal it all feels,” he said in the statement. “I never expected something like this to happen. I’m deeply saddened and praying for Rep. Saclise and the others who were shot.”

Scalise, the House majority whip, was in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital, according to one congressional aide. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Other Colorado politicians weighed in on Twitter Wednesday morning, with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner praising Capitol police and expressing concern for Scalise.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet also took to Twitter, offering thoughts and prayers to those who were injured.

Bennet later said in a statement: “This morning’s shooting is a reminder that we must never take for granted the heroism of the Capitol Police, who risk their lives every day to protect our nation’s Capitol. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those injured, and we hope for their speedy recovery.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn tweeted that his staff was safe and accounted for, and expressed well wishes to Scalise and all impacted by “this horrific attack.”

Colorado U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Diana DeGette also tweeted messages of support for those affected.


President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and was monitoring developments.

Alexandria police said a suspect was taken into custody and “not a threat.”

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told The Hill Wednesday morning that “a man asked him whether Republicans or Democrats were practicing” a couple minutes before the shooting.

The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity is scheduled for Thursday at Nationals Park.

This is a developing story. Check back with Colorado Politics for more.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Associated Press

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus is senior statehouse reporter for Colorado Politics. He covers the legislature and previously covered politics, the governor’s office, the legislature and Congress for The Durango Herald. He joined The Herald in 2014 from The Colorado Statesman, a Denver-based political weekly. The Washington Post twice named Marcus one of the nation’s top state-based political and legislative reporters.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.