15 Jun 2017

Gunman dead after attacking US politicians at baseball field

9:14 am on 15 June 2017

A senior Republican is in a critical condition in hospital after a gunman opened fire during baseball practise in Virginia.

Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team collect evidence at the site of the shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park.

Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team collect evidence at the site of the shooting. Photo: AFP

The attacker fired at lawmakers practising near Washington for a charity game, wounding Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise and several other people before being fatally shot by police.

Mr Scalise, the Republican Party's number three in the House of Representatives, was shot in the hip. He was tended to by fellow lawmakers before being transported to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.

The gunman was wounded in a gunfight with Capitol Hill police, who were at the scene, and police said he later died.

A current congressional staffer and one former staffer were also wounded. One Capitol Hill police officer suffered a gunshot wound and another officer twisted an ankle, an official said.

A black SUV with a shot-out windscreen at  the scene of the shooting.

A black SUV with a shot-out windscreen at the scene of the shooting. Photo: AFP

The gunman has been identified as James T Hodgkinson from Illinois. Media reports said the 66-year-old owned a home inspection business.

Hodgkinson had raged against US President Donald Trump on social media and was a member of anti-Republican groups on Facebook including 'The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans', 'Terminate The Republican Party', and 'Donald Trump is not my President', a search of his Facebook profile showed.

The gunman reportedly idolised Senator Bernie Sanders and Mr Sanders said in a statement that the suspected gunman was somebody who had "apparently volunteered" on his presidential campaign. He condemned the shooting, saying he was "sickened by this despicable act".

Mr Trump announced the gunman's death and called Mr Scalise, 51, a good friend. Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said Mr Scalise was "badly injured" but would recover.

"He's a patriot and he's a fighter. He will recover from this assault," Mr Trump said.

House Majority Whip. Steve Scalise speaks to the media in Washington, DC (file photo).

House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise has been shot during a baseball training (file photo). Photo: AFP

Matt Mika - a lobbyist for Tyson Foods - was among the injured. Witnesses said he was shot in the chest and his family said he was in a critical condition.

Texas congressman Roger Williams' office said one of his staff, legislative correspondent Zack Barth, was wounded in the attack, and was expected to make a full recovery.

As the shooting unfolded, Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, texted Fox News to say that Mr Scalise had been shot in the hip and would survive.

He said someone had used a belt as a tourniquet on him.

Representative Mo Brooks told CNN he heard 10 to 20 rounds from the gunman's rifle before the security detail returned fire.

He said there were 20 to 25 members of team at the practice when the gunfire erupted.

As the current House of Representatives Majority Whip, Mr Scalise is one of the most powerful members of Congress. He is the representative for Louisiana's first congressional district, serving since 2008.

- BBC / Reuters