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Baseball Field Shooting; Interview With Pennsylvania Congressman Ryan Costello. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired June 14, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We're live here at the U.S. Capitol, a very shaky, tenuous place right now. Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, is in critical condition with a gunshot wound to his hip.
The man who shot him is dead. Scalise, the Republican majority whip, was one of five people shot at this congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. And we now have new video that caught all those gunshots on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are they shooting?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: It's chilling to hear all those shots, one after another, from this morning at baseball practice.
A lobbyist, congressional aide and two members of the Capitol Police were also shot in this morning's attack before police ultimately took down this attacker. We're told he opened fire from behind one of the dugouts with some kind of rifle.
Now investigators are simply trying to pinpoint why he did this, what's the motive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN DUNCAN (R), TENNESSEE: I actually left right before the shooting happened and had an interaction with who I believe was the shooter based on the profile that I saw on TV.
I have given a statement to the Alexandria Police Department this morning after I heard about the shooting. They asked me to come down there because I did have an interaction with someone in the parking lot who asked me if the team practicing was a Democrat or Republican team. I told him they were Republicans. He said, OK, thanks, turned around.
I got in the car and left and found out that my Republican colleagues were targeted by an active shooter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Texas Congressman Joe Barton had brought his 10-year-old son along just to watch him play ball this morning. His son ended up having to be shielded from the gunfire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: Our prays are right now for Steve Scalise and for his family and for the others, the Capitol Hill Police who got wounded and our volunteers who got wounded also.
The heroes are the police officers who attacked the shooter and, in doing so, quite probably saved many, many lives. The shooter was not on the field and never got on the field. He stayed behind the third base dugout and came around behind home plate, got behind a utility shed, and then darted out in front of the utility shed, and that's when he got shot.
QUESTION: Did you see the shooter and the weapon?
BARTON: I did not until after the fact. And I was getting down protecting, making sure my son was down, and I did not see him when it was an active shooting situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The dead gunman has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66 years old, from Belleville, Illinois. The FBI says it's too early to tell whether or not this was in fact an act of terror or whether lawmakers were targeted for assassination.
Let's begin this hour with Barbara Starr, who is there at the scene in Alexandria.
What more are you learning, Barbara, what's happened and more on the shooter?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, hi.
We're about 25 minutes south of Capitol Hill here across the Potomac River on the street where it happened, that baseball field just behind these police lines. And in the last several minutes, we have seen some additional federal law enforcement vehicles show up working on evidence gathering, working on the forensics, we believe.
Most of the emergency critical vehicles that were here for the initial response have now gone, but these additional personnel moving in, the FBI leading the investigation. This is a federal crime, an attack on members of the U.S. Congress.
So the FBI has the lead and made the point earlier this morning they are looking at all scenarios. We have had these reports of politically inspired messages on social media of this attacker being potentially anti-one political party or the other, but the FBI very much making the point it is going to investigate a number of threats and is not ready yet to come to any conclusion about motivation.
The local police chief, however, the Alexandria police chief, came before reporters and assured the community they don't see an additional threat here. They believe this community is safe.
And so I want to tell everyone a little bit about this community. Most federal law enforcement officials will tell you gun violence is a scourge on so many towns and cities across the country of all sorts.
And this community no different. This is an older neighborhood in Washington. People, many of them have lived here for many years. There is a great sense of neighborhood. When this happened at 7:00 this morning, the first 911 call coming in at 7:09, police arriving three minutes later, people were out walking their dogs, they were watching the baseball practice, getting the kids ready for school, getting ready for the commute to work.
If it was an act of political terrorism, political-inspired violence, this is a neighborhood that certainly was shocked to find it on their doorstep -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's a gorgeous part of the country and it's again one of those places where we say never would have imagined that this would have happened here.
Barbara Starr, thank you so much.
As far as this gunman today, what we're learning about him, he is -- was 66 years of age. James Hodgkinson was his name. Investigators swarming his Illinois home now looking for any sort of clue, evidence, why -- why he would have done this.
One thing they know right now, he was active on Twitter, Facebook, where he posted this message -- quote -- "Trump is guilty and should go to prison for treason," and I can tell you, having looked, a lot more at that.
CNN producer Shimon Prokupecz is joining me with more on this gunman.
He seemed angry.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Brooke.
And it certainly seems to be something that FBI investigators are looking at for motive and intent on why he may have opened fire on the congressman.
The other question is, for investigators, is how long has he been in Alexandria, Virginia? Some family -- family members indicate that he has been there for maybe a short period of time. But FBI investigators have not necessarily been able to confirm that.
They also what to how he knew that this game was going on, how -- what was -- was it advertised somewhere, and so that's how he saw it? So, that's part of their investigation.
His history is pretty much open now, the gunman's history. They know what he was thinking in the last few months. He was open about it. He's loud. His Facebook page was open. His tweets were open. He's also written letters to his local newspaper, the editors there, complaining about Republican views.
So this is all playing into motive. I can tell you, Brooke, that they have also gone out to his home in Belleville, as you have said, where they have interviewed family and friends. And they continue to do that, sort of going back now trying to build a timeline up to the shooting.
Where was he in the days leading up to this and what was he thinking? He was just tweeting and posting himself on Facebook and a few days ago, anti-Trump stuff.
BALDWIN: Yesterday, yes.
PROKUPECZ: So, this is all part of the investigation now.
They know a lot about him. They learned fairly quickly who he was, because he drove a van to the scene. And with that van, they were able to learn, you know, his identity fairly quickly. And they had to go to the hospital and do some things to identify him.
But that all happened relatively quickly. And they have been able to learn a lot about him since the shooting, Brooke.
BALDWIN: As you well know how this works, they are in his home, as you said, and there will be evidence. Did anyone know he was doing this? We know that investigators will get to the bottom of all of it.
Shimon, thank you so much for all of your digging and your sources, Shimon Prokupecz.
With me now here on Capitol Hill, Congressman Ryan Costello, Republican from Pennsylvania.
And, Sir, I'm sorry to be sitting next to you on a day like today. And you all were supposed to be playing this -- getting ready for this big game tomorrow night here in D.C. I understand you missed your ride. You were supposed to be there playing shortstop not too far from where Steve Scalise would have been.
REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Right next to him.
BALDWIN: Right next to him. What happened?
COSTELLO: My ride leaves at 6:00. Brad Wenstrup and Rodney Davis, two members of Congress, they leave at 6:00 a.m. sharp and I'm usually with them.
But if I'm not there at 6:00 a.m., they leave. And I got out of Longworth Building at 6:02. I texted them. They said they just left. And I went looking for another ride, couldn't find it. Couldn't find one.
And then, at 6:20, I just went in and changed and got ready for my day and went to my office and was reading up on preparing for today and heard on the television that there was a shooting at a baseball practice. And then I heard the word Congress and I looked up and it was the baseball field that we practice at.
And I can't even begin to describe the range of emotions that I felt, first and foremost about Steve Scalise and the four other men that were shot, because I practice with them every morning. We all know them. We're all buddies.
And you start thinking about how it could have been you and how devastated it would be to your own family. And then you think about their family. And the only thing that I can say right now that makes me breathe a little easier is that they are reportedly all doing OK and that their families know that they're doing OK, because we're all in this job.
And it's a public responsibility. And there are times when you feel the heat from your constituents or the glare of the media and people aren't happy.
BALDWIN: You knew what you were signing up for, to an extent.
COSTELLO: But the safety considerations, I think, have become more pronounced -- or concerns have become more pronounced particularly this year.
And when something like this happens, it kind of affirms within your own consciousness why you feel and you should feel concerned and make sure that when you're putting yourself in a town hall or at a public event, that you do it in a responsible way. And it's not just for your own individual self, which is important.
It's for everybody else at those events and for your staff.
BALDWIN: Congressman, this was supposed to be just baseball practice. This was baseball practice. It's 7:00 in the morning in Alexandria.
COSTELLO: Well, it's members of Congress. And I think that that's the thing.
I don't want it to be a lesson for anyone, but, in some respects, maybe it's what we all have to realize is that we -- that this, at times, engenders a lot of animosity in the American public.
And I think it's important, as we speak -- and I try and do this -- always try and bring it back to civility and try not to tweet or social media posts in a manner that is going to bring about or engender more hatred or more anger, because stuff like this can happen and it does happen.
BALDWIN: And it did happen. And your are.
COSTELLO: And thank God that they're still alive.
BALDWIN: Thank God. And the latest we have, by the way, on Congressman Scalise is that he's out of surgery, but he is in critical condition.
BALDWIN: So, that's what we know about him.
You all walk around with your congressional pins. We know who you are on Capitol Hill.
COSTELLO: Sometimes, I don't at home for that very reason, yes.
BALDWIN: So, that's what I wanted to ask you about.
Now all of these new conversations about protections, because this would have been much worse, having talked to members who were there this morning, had it not been for him being the number three Republican in the House with the two Capitol Police officers who were total heroes this morning. Had they not been there, this would have been worse.
COSTELLO: Way worse.
BALDWIN: What are you supposed to do now? Do you fear for your own safety?
COSTELLO: Well, sure.
COSTELLO: Yes, there's always that element.
So, I said to someone this morning, I may be talking to you, and if I look over your shoulder at things, it's not -- I'm not trying to talk to somebody more important than you. I'm just making sure that things are normal and there's nothing peculiar going on.
And every member of Congress' staff, the person that staffs them, that's what they do. And, sometimes, it's just somebody trying to video record you saying something silly. But you have to be aware of your surroundings and make sure you're not putting yourself in harm's way.
And, look, 9,999 times out of 10,000, the person...
BALDWIN: You're OK.
COSTELLO: And the person that is angry at you or the person that wants to get in front of you or the person that is looking at you a little unusual just wants to say hi or wants to air their grievances.
And I get that and they should. And I want to be somebody that allows them to do that. But it's that one time out of 10,000 or 100,000 or a million.
BLITZER: How aware were you of the one-time potential, truly?
COSTELLO: It's always in the back of my head a little bit. It's always -- and some of it also is -- I may do an event, but I may not put my name on the invite.
I will show up at things, but not necessarily -- now, look, I'm a member -- I'm not in leadership. You may not have ever heard of my name before right now. And that's OK.
But those sort of considerations, I think every member factors in, and particularly with this recent -- there's this thing where like, oh, when are you going to have your town hall? And then you would constituents like invite you to town halls that they would do with no safety precautions or security precautions.
And then, if you didn't show up, they would call you a coward and all this stuff. And it's like, I'm not a coward. I'm happy to meet with my constituents. I'm happy to do that sort of stuff. But I should have the right to have some level...
BALDWIN: To have security.
COSTELLO: I should be able to control the forum, so that my staff and I are comfortable.
And let's not forget that those who are attending are safe, too. I mean, there were people around that park today just walking their dog. You know, Joe Barton, the manager of the team, his 10-year-old son was with him. Those are legitimate concerns, I think.
BALDWIN: This changes things.
Congressman, thank you so much for coming by. I'm glad you were running late, for your sake.
COSTELLO: I'm glad everyone is OK, absolutely.
COSTELLO: I know we all are. BALDWIN: Thank you very much.
COSTELLO: Yes, thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
We are getting some new videos of the moment that this madman this morning opened fire. We will watch all of that together here on CNN.
Also ahead, what we're learning more about the condition of Congressman Steve Scalise. We will take you live to the hospital.
Also, any moment now, we're expecting a joint news conference from the managers of both of these congressional teams. Right? This is the Republican team that was hit this morning. But Democrats, they were practicing and playing as well ahead of tomorrow night's big game, which will continue on.
You're watching CNN's special live coverage. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Washington, D.C.
BALDWIN: We're back here live in Washington, D.C. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
The big question is why. Why did a 66-year-old man with obviously some serious grievances come down from Illinois here to Washington, D.C., to try to shoot up these Republicans practicing baseball this morning?
We don't know the answer to that yet. What we do have now is a closer picture at what exactly happened. I'm going to show some video to you. It was shot by Noah Nathan, who happened to be passing by this ballpark early this morning. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know where he's at? Do you know where he's at?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's behind home plate. He's behind home plate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume people have been calling 911 already.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They better be.
(GUNFIRE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Is that guy OK out there? The guy who has
been shot, is he OK? Is anybody talking to him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's going in the bunker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have shots fired. Shots fired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Hearing all that gunfire gives you an indication of how long this lasted this morning in Alexandria, Virginia, at this baseball park.
And you see the people taking cover. You hear some of the voices. They asked about that guy who was down, that guy, Congressman Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican, he was hit by the gunfire in his hip.
We know he is just out of surgery after that shooting this morning.
Let's go and get an update on his condition, among the other survivors as well.
I have got Brian Todd standing by outside of MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and Dianne Gallagher outside George Washington University Hospital.
But, Brian, to you first, just on Congressman Scalise's condition, out of surgery, how is he?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, we were just told by hospital officials that that Congressman Scalise in is critical condition after having emerged from surgery a short time ago.
He was brought here in critical condition, they say, and he remains in critical condition. It is the most severe condition that someone can be in this situation while hospitalized, according to the American Hospital Association.
It means that vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits and the patient may be unconscious. Those are the guidelines for being in critical condition. According to a Scalia aide who spoke to our Manu Raju, it's not clear if he's going to have a second surgery.
But he did emerge from surgery in critical condition. That's where he remains at this hour. Brooke, another person, a victim of the shooting is also being treated here at MedStar Hospital Washington Center. That person's name has not been released.
We're told that person is in good condition. So those are the updates from here. Congressman Scalise was medevaced in a helicopter here earlier today, landing on a pad just to my left over here.
We've had security personnel and members of Congress and their staffs coming in these doors behind me all day long to check on Congressman Scalise. Also, his aides tell us that his wife, Jennifer, and their two young children are on their way up to Washington from New Orleans to be with him.
Congressman Scalise, according to the witness accounts, was struck in the hip, as you just mentioned. According to Senator Jeff Flake, the Republican senator who was there at the baseball field, he was motionless on the field for a while, while the shooting was going on.
He dragged himself maybe about 15 yards into the outfield. He was struck while he was at the second base position on that field. He dragged himself into the outfield, then lay motionless, and people couldn't get to him for a little while until the shooting stopped.
But they did get to him. They transported him off the field. Senator Jeff Flake said that he grabbed Congressman Scalise's cell phone and called his wife to tell her the news as all that was happening.
And then we're told by Congressman Scalise's staff he was in good spirits when he got here and that he spoke to his wife on the phone before surgery. Then he had surgery for a few hours, came out of it and is now in critical condition, Brooke, unclear if he's going to have a second surgery.
BALDWIN: Well, we wish his family safe travels as they undoubtedly are trying to get up here from New Orleans as quickly as they possibly can. Brian Todd, thank you so much on both of those updates.
Dianne, met ask you a similar question on some of these survivors updates. But before I do, we did just get a statement in. This is the family of one of the victims. This is Matt Mika's family saying -- quote -- "Baseball is one of his great passions and he's always loved the congressional team."
Matt's family, now traveling to Washington, D.C., was informed by paramedics on the scene that Matt was shot multiple times, is in critical condition and is currently in surgery at an area hospital.
So there you have it from the family.
Dianne to you at G.W. Hospital on Mika. What are you hearing?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Brooke, Matt Mika has been in critical condition since he was brought here to G.W. Hospital.
Some of the congressmen and senators out on the scene, they described Mika's injuries as some of the worst of those victims out there. Two of the people were brought here to G.W. Since then, we have been getting updates. His condition has not changed. You mentioned his love of baseball,
though, that his family talked about. Matt Mika was there helping those congressmen, helping those senators get ready for that game tomorrow. He was just sort of working with them, training.
His family said he always loved the congressional baseball team. He was a former staffer on the Hill and had moved on to lobbying. He worked for Tyson Foods. And they issued a statement earlier this morning after the shooting saying that their thoughts and prayers were with the Mika family.
His condition has not changed, though, again, Brooke, since he came here, in critical condition, one of those two patients, the other being the shooter, of course. They brought those ambulances out.
When my photograph, Jay (ph), got here, they were sort of washing the blood off those gurneys, cleaning out the ambulances at that time. Again, they said that he had been shot multiple times.