Had U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-New Orleans, not practiced with fellow Republicans for a charity baseball game, there would have been no armed security for the remaining 24 congressmen on the field in Alexandria, Virginia.
Scalise, the House Majority Whip, is part of congressional leadership and among just a handful of members entitled to his own security detail. Both of officers in his security detail were wounded but stopped the suspect, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill.
The shooter had a gun, and we only had baseball bats, said U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Cleburne, who coaches the team and sprained his ankle while diving for cover.
"In my experience working on the Hill with members of Congress there was always an uncomfortable lack of security [off Capitol Hill]. I think there's a misconception the president has Secret Service and every member of Congress has Secret Service. That's just not true at all. The President, the Vice-President, Speaker of the House and a few members of Congress have protection. Maybe 7-10 total,” said Jordan Powell, a Dallas-based Republican consultant who runs RedRight Strategies.
U.S. Capitol Police will now conduct a full re-evaluation of how to protect members of Congress outside of the capitol complex after Wednesday’s mass shooting in Virginia, according to members who spoke to WFAA.
"It took the second shot for me to understand what was happening and hear everybody. We were sitting ducks. We had nothing to fight back with, but bats if it got to that,” said Rep. Williams.
Ennis Republican Joe Barton manages the charity team. He and his two sons were there but unharmed.
In all, Barton and Williams were among 25 congressmen and 15 staff members at the ball field in the affluent Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria when the mass shooting started.
"Officer Bailey and Griner prevented that. My family and I will be forever grateful,” said Williams becoming emotional. “The thin blue line held today."
It did. However, it also created a new problem of whether to extend that line of security to more of its members.