Republican lawmakers returned to an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field Wednesday, nearly 11 months after a gunman opened fire on their practice for a charity baseball game.
The team gathered at Simpson Field in the Del Ray neighborhood Wednesday morning for their first practice for this year's charity baseball game.
Texas State Rep. Joe Barton, who also serves as the team's manager, said returning to the field was emotional.
"Obviously, the people that were shot feel very strongly about it," he said. "I had my two sons here, and I brought both of them back to the field that same week so they could see that it’s just a baseball field."
Georgia State Rep. Barry Loudermilk also recalled the emotions brought on by the shooting. He showed up to practice Wednesday wearing the same clothes he had on that day.
"One of the things that stayed with me was we never got to finish the practice that we started, and that’s why I wore the same uniform I was wearing on the field that day, because it was important to come out here and show the world that we’re not going to be deterred from doing what we do," he said.
On the morning of June 14, 2017, members of the Republican team were practicing when shots rang out.
Four people were injured in the shooting. The wounded included House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise; Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tysons Foods; Capitol Police Special Agent Crystal Griner; and Zack Barth, an aide to Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas). Scalise and Mika were seriously injured.
Scalise was struck in the hip and the bullet shattered blood vessels, bones and internal organs along the way. Doctors said he arrived at a hospital at imminent risk of death.
He was hospitalized for more than a month and has had to endure a number of surgeries since the shooting.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Scalise said he was encouraged that his colleagues returned to the field for practice. Once he's up to it, he said he'd like to get back out on the field, too. He isn't sure, however, that he'll make it to the game.
"I haven’t been back out to the ballfield yet since the shooting and want to do that on my own terms first and ultimately get back to a practice," Scalise said.
The gunman, 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, of Illinois, was shot dead by U.S. Capitol Police officers who were there as a part of Scalise's security detail.
Hodgkinson had nursed grievances against President Donald Trump and income inequality. Hodgkinson had also been critical of the GOP and was reportedly carrying a handwritten list of House Republicans' names, according to officials.
In a tweet Wednesday, Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg thanked law enforcement, and posted a photo at the field with Barton.
"The Republican Congressional Baseball Team came back to kick off their practice at Simpson Field this morning," she wrote. "It is not quite a year since the unthinkable incident."
This year, congressional baseball practices will be heavily guarded, with Capitol police officers to attend each session. Residents and media will also have limited access to the field.