ATLANTA - The candidates in the runoff for the 6th District Congressional seat have both issued statements regarding Wednesday's attack during a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot Wednesday morning during an early-morning practice for Thursday's annual Congressional Baseball Game, after a lone gunman armed with a rifle opened fire. The gunman has since died.
Scalise (R-La.) and four others, including Congressional aide Zachary Barth, former staffer and current Tyson Foods employee Matt Mika, U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent David Bailey, and U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent Crystal Griner, were wounded.
U.S. Capitol Police said officers who were part of Rep. Scalise's security detail returned fire, wounding the shooter. Associated Press reports that the shooter was 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill.
Republican candidate Karen Handle released the following statement:
"My thoughts are with the victims of this morning's despicable, unprovoked attack on the Republican congressional softball team. Representative Scalise is a friend, and my heart goes out to him and his family. Steve and I wish him and the others wounded a speedy recovery. They remain in our thoughts and prayers.
"I also want to commend the heroic actions of the Capitol Police officers who clearly prevented today's attack from being a much bigger tragedy.
"I am aware that the suspect recently made vile comments about me on social media. It also appears that the suspect targeted members of Congress specifically because he disagreed with their views.
"We should not allow our political differences to escalate to violent attacks. We must all refuse to allow the politics of our country to be defined in this way. Now more than ever, we must unite as a one nation under God. It is incumbent upon all of us to work together in a civil and productive way, even when we disagree."
Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff also released a statement:
"I condemn this appalling act of violence committed by a disturbed individual. The whole country is shaken as well as united in prayer for those fighting for their lives and in appreciation for the first responders and police for saving lives today. Despite our differences of opinion, Americans must redouble our commitments to national unity, civility, and the rule of law."
A runoff election between the two candidates for the seat left open after Rep. Tom Price accepted to service as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration will be held June 20.