Arkansas Congressmen Safe As GOP House Whip, Tyson Employee And Others Injured In Shooting

Jun 14, 2017

Matt Mika, director of government relations for Tyson Foods' Washington, D.C. office was injured in the shooting.
Credit Tyson Foods

Members of Arkansas’s Congressional delegation are safe after a gunman targeted a charity baseball game practice at around 7 a.m. EST Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, about 8 miles from the nation’s capitol.

The gunman, identified as 66-year old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois reportedly died from injuries he sustained after targeting a baseball practice that included several members of Congress, staff and members of the U.S. Capitol Police, who fired back on the gunman. GOP U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Lousiana and at least four others were wounded, according to NPR:

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said his officers who were wounded "are in good condition" and should recover quickly. He later added that they had "acted heroically today."

In the wake of the shooting, the House of Representatives canceled legislative business for the day, and security was increased around the White House. A public event that had been scheduled for President Trump at the Labor Department on Wednesday afternoon was canceled.

Scalise was shot in the hip; his office says the lawmaker was in stable condition and undergoing surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

"Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,"Scalise's office said in a statement. "He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues.”

None of Arkansas’s six members of Congress attended the event. But a lobbyist with Springdale-based Tyson foods was in attendance and was injured by gunfire, the company confirmed in a statement: 

"We have confirmed that Matt Mika, director-government relations for our Washington, D.C. office, is among those who was shot this morning in Alexandria.  He has been taken to a local hospital and we’re awaiting word on his condition. Matt has worked for Tyson Foods for more than six years and we’re deeply concerned about him and his family." 

The all-Republican Arkansas congressional delegation expressed sympathy for victims of the incident in statements released afterward. U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of the state's third district said in a statement he was “devastated” to hear about the shooting.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Steve Scalise, the other victims and their families. I am thankful for the United States Capitol Police and their relentless effort to keep us safe,” Womack said.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of the state's fourth district said on Twitter: “I am ok. I was not at the baseball practice. My prayers are with [Rep. Steve Scalise] and all others who were injured this morning.”

Arkansas Second District Congressman French Hill said on Twitter he was at the White House with constituents when the shooting reportedly took place. He called it a “senseless attack.”

“Every day the Capitol Police protects members of Congress, our staffs, and those visiting the Capitol from possible threats. Early reporting from this morning’s shooting indicates that it was the Capitol Police that…sprang into action to subdue the shooter and save many lives. We should be extremely grateful for Capitol Police this morning and other first responders on the scene for their heroic work,” Hill wrote.

Rep. Rick Crawford of the first district said “events like these are appalling. Thank you to Capitol Police and the detail who bravely took action this morning.”

U.S. Sen John Boozman said he was “horrified at the senseless act of violence.”

Appearing on CBS This Morning, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said “I think the best thing we can do is pray for the health and well-being” of those involved, and “pray for the skill of the EMTs, the nurses, the doctors who are going to be caring for them.”

“This baseball game has been going on for over a 100 years. [I] never participated in it myself, but have attended it many times to watch my friends. You know the American people see us on TV debating very contentious issues of concern, but you know when we’re off the House and Senate floor, there’s a lot of camaraderie,” Cotton said.

Cotton said the Capitol police notified his staff about the incident, who then briefed him on the matter.

Speaking at an economic development announcement on Wednesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also commented on the shooting. He said during his time in Congress he served with Rep. Scalise.

“I’ve known Steve, I know some of the players that were involved in that game. It’s a great American tradition. To have that disrupted by attack is certainly disturbing and our hearts go out to the families,” Hutchinson said. 

KUAR's Michael Hibblen contributed to this report.

This post was updated at 12:22pm.