WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Scalise, a member of the House Republican leadership, is known for his love of baseball and the late-night meals he often serves his colleagues in his office near the Capitol’s ornate Statuary Hall.
Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, was shot Wednesday along with several others during a GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
A law enforcement official says the shooting is being investigated as a criminal act rather than an act of terrorism.
The official, who was not authorized to speak by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, also says the FBI is taking over the investigation, which is standard protocol in attacks involving federal officials such as a congressman.
The White House says that it’s canceling President Donald Trump’s only public event on Wednesday due to the shooting involving members of Congress.
Trump was scheduled to visit the Department of Labor later in the afternoon to talk about apprenticeships and sign an executive order. The White House also canceled a “listening session” on tax reform with top economic adviser Gary Cohn and auto industry leaders.
Trump said in a statement earlier that the White House was “deeply saddened by this tragedy.”
George Washington University Hospital says it is treating two people wounded during the shooting at a congressional baseball practice and both are in critical condition. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Griffiths says their identity is not being released because of patient privacy laws.
Scalise is undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Before the shooting, Scalise distributed commemorative baseball bats to fellow members when he ran for a leadership post in 2014. The Louisiana conservative was elected majority whip, the job of chief vote counter for the GOP leadership team.
Scalise, 51, was first elected to the House in 2008 and served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives, before becoming whip in the leadership shuffle that followed the surprise defeat of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary.
In his whip campaign, he boasted about his conservative credentials and pointed out that he’d be the only GOP leader from the South, which had a major role in giving Republicans their largest House majority in decades.
Scalise, who was shot in the hip, was transported to a Washington hospital and was undergoing surgery. He is in stable condition.
“Prior to entering surgery, the whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone. He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues,” his office said in a statement.
Scalise represents a district that includes some New Orleans suburbs and bayou parishes. Before entering Congress, he was a lawmaker in Louisiana for eight years.
Scalise faced questions last year about some of his Louisiana ties. Six months after his election as whip, it came to light that he had spoken in 2002 to a white supremacist group founded by Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise apologized for the speech and said he was unaware of the group’s racial philosophy when he agreed to speak as a state legislator.
“I reject bigotry of all forms,” Scalise said then.
He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children.