Metro-East News

Davis recounts shooting, urges end to ‘over-the-top’ political rhetoric

​Alexandria Police and witness recount shooting at congressional baseball practice

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown briefs the press on the on-going investigation of the shooting at the GOP baseball practice early this morning in Alexandria, Va. . A witness recounts the scene where Majority Whip Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, c
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Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown briefs the press on the on-going investigation of the shooting at the GOP baseball practice early this morning in Alexandria, Va. . A witness recounts the scene where Majority Whip Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, c

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis was up to bat when he heard the gunshots.

James T. Hodgkinson, of Belleville, opened fire on congressmen Wednesday during a GOP practice baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia for an annual charity fundraiser between Democrats and Republicans. Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, described the shooting during an interview on CNN.

“Hearing the first shot, not knowing what it is,” Davis said. “And then hearing the words, ‘Run, he’s got a gun.’”

Davis said he called his wife, Shannon, and then contacted his children.

“You could hear the panic in his voice,” Shannon Davis said.

Davis played in the charity game Thursday, which went on as scheduled despite the shooting.

“Last night’s game will be one I never forget,” Davis wrote in a Facebook post. “It was about so much more than baseball.”

Participants in the game raised more than $1 million for charity, according to Davis.

In his interview on CNN, Davis thanked a “Good Samaritan” who welcomed him and two others into his home immediately after the shooting. In an emailed statement Monday from his campaign committee, Davis also thanked congressional police who returned fire against Hodgkinson.

“If they were not there Wednesday morning, I am not sure that you would be reading this e-mail right now,” Davis said in the statement.

Davis escaped “with only a few scratches” on his arm, though U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was critically injured. The House Majority Whip’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious Saturday. He was speaking with family members and watching a Louisiana State University baseball game, according to his Twitter feed.

Davis said in his statement vitriolic political rhetoric is in part to blame for the violence.

“We can have disagreements and still be friends. That is what makes our country great,” Davis wrote. “I pledge to you moving forward that I will do all that I can do end the divisive, over the top, political language that is preventing our country from moving forward.”

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Collinsville, also urged peace.

“I would hope the vitriol and this extremely negative political anger calms down,” Shimkus said in a tweet. “What we need to do is get to the middle ground, compromise.”

Davis said he had received 449 text messages by the time he recovered his cell phone from the crime scene Wednesday evening.

“I cannot thank you enough for all of the support and warm wishes you all have poured down me this week,” Davis said in his statement. “I am forever grateful.”

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis

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