Members of the U.S. Congress took the field for their traditional Republicans vs. Democrats baseball game on Thursday, with many wearing hats to honor Representative Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded by a gunman as his Republican team practiced a day before. The crowd chanted "USA! But for now, the members of the congressional baseball team have made the decision to go forward with tonight's game, which will be played for charity", McConnell said.
The FBI says the shooter, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, was killed by police. Not lost on him was that he left the GOP team's practice Wednesday morning just as the shooter was arriving, in enough time to tell the gunmen the Republican team was out in the park but missing, by minutes, the horrifying episode that followed. "And thank God he wasn't a very good shot", said Representative Joe Barton, the Republican team's manager.
"It's a fun event, and especially after yesterday, it's great to see folks rally around America", David Mangone, 27, a lobbyist, told BuzzFeed News. He participated in practices to lend a hand for love of the game in general and the Congressional Baseball Game in particular.
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Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who sought the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said he had been told that Hodgkinson had served as a volunteer with his campaign. "I know we'll be thinking about each of them as they take the field tonight". Organizers estimate raising more than $1 million and attracting record attendance, up to 25,000 people by some counts.
As in the past several years, Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, a close friend of his wounded Republican colleague and a player in his college days, dominated much of the night, from the mound and the plate.
Republicans and Democrats sat in different parts of the park - fans could state their party preference when buying tickets.
"Were in town because we're tourists and I mean I heard about the shooting and I was like, 'Wow, it would be cool to come today to show support for the congressmen, '" said Otis Amick of Phoenix. He said he hoped the game would help heal emotional wounds.
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"I am so grateful that the Capitol Police were there and were able to protect them all".
Americans shouldn't have to fear being victims of gun violence as they go about their lives and that includes sending their children to school, going to church, partying at a nightclub - or practicing hitting baseballs. "We've got more work to do on that".
The baseball tradition is said to have forged a friendship between Richmond and fellow Louisiana Rep. Scalise.
Trump says Scalise "continues his very fearless fight", but adds: "it's been much more hard than people even thought at the time. A member of the US Congress got shot because they didn't like (his) political views", Ryan said.
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Scalise had been fielding balls at second base when he was shot and then dragged himself away from the infield in a trail of blood. More than $500,000 was raised past year benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, The Washington Literacy Center and The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
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