Jeff Flake, Gabby Giffords React to Shooting of Congressman Scalise

This morning, a shooter opened fire on the Republican Congressional Baseball Team, injuring Louisiana congressman and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in addition to four other individuals who have not yet been identified.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was on the scene and came to Scalise's aid.

Here's Flake's account of the scene, originally told to CNN and transcribed by Vox:

We were going to batting practice. A number of members and staff fielding. Steve Scalise was on second base. All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. Everybody thought, that sounds like a gun.

The gunman was over by the third-base dugout with a view of the field. A couple more shots and we knew what it was. I remember seeing some gravel, shots coming near us. We climbed into the dugout and tried to get our own people engaged, some people were calling 911.

It was at least 10 minutes because we were applying pressure to one of the staffers who was shot in the leg. We could see Steve Scalise in the field. He dragged himself from near second base into the field just to be further from the gunman. I wanted to get to him but there were still shots going overhead from both sides.

Finally when we heard the shooter was down, I ran out to Steve and started putting pressure. And then did that for about 10 or 15 minutes. We did that until the medics arrived.

Flake's office has issued the following statement, which also notes that the senator made the first call to Scalise's wife to let her know about the shooting before it appeared in the news:

As the center fielder on Republican Congressional Baseball Team, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was present during the shooting this morning at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va. Flake was standing along the first base line when the gunman opened fire. As the gunman and Capitol Police exchanged gunfire, Flake took cover in the dugout. While in the dugout, Flake helped treat one aide who, after being shot in the leg near center field, managed to get into the dugout. Flake estimates more than 50 shots were fired. Immediately after the gunfire stopped, Flake ran onto the field and began to apply pressure on Congressman Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) wound. After medical personnel arrived, Flake retrieved Scalise’s phone and made the first call to Scalise’s wife to notify her of the shooting. He did to ensure that Mrs. Scalise would not find out about the shooting through the media.

Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011.

Giffords, who went on to found the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued a statement describing the shooting as "an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy":

It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican, nor if you're a senator or a representative, nor a staffer or a sworn officer. If you serve the institution of Congress, you're connected to your colleagues, current and former, by a shared sense of service to ideals far greater than yourself. This shooting is an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy.

I am heartbroken for the pain of Congressman Scalise, the other victims, and their family, friends, and colleagues who survived. I am thankful for the great courage of the Capitol Police, who were my protectors after I was shot and became my friends. I also know the courage it takes to recover from a shooting like this, and I know Steve and everyone there this morning have such courage in great supply.

May all Americans come together today with prayers for the survivors, love for their friends and family, and the courage to go about everyday making this country its best. Our nation is resilient, and we always come back stronger.
In May, a Tuscon man was arrested for threatening to shoot Representative Martha McSally, who represents Giffords' former district.

"Threatening to shoot a member of Congress between the eyes and stating that her days are numbered is sickening," McSally said at the time.

"It is especially sickening here in southeastern Arizona because we know, perhaps better than any congressional district in the country, what happens when threats of violence become acts of violence.

Here's how other Arizona members of Congress have reacted to the attack in Virginia:

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Antonia Noori Farzan is a staff writer at New Times and an honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to Arizona, she worked for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.