GOP baseball coach: 'It felt like we were being hunted'

One of the game's assistant coaches - from right here in Texas - is among the survivors of the shooting.

A former Texas Christian University and Stephen F. Austin baseball coach was on the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia where a shooter fired 50 to 100 shots at a group of political leaders.

Five people were injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) who remains in critical condition.

Donnie Watson has been friends with Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) since their days at TCU, so when the lawmaker asked the veteran college coach to help his Republican team in D.C. five years ago, he agreed.
Watson now says he has no regrets and no doubt the game will go on.

After three weeks of practice at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Washington D.C., the unthinkable happened.

"Everything's going along perfect and then out of nowhere the biggest crack," said Donnie Watson. "You could tell it's not a firecracker. It's not a car backfiring."

Watson started the day as an assistant coach of the Congressional Baseball Game's Republican team, and suddenly became a potential target.

"I felt like I was being hunted," he added." All the military guys that are now Congressmen I mean all their training must've jumped in, because they immediately said 'On the ground, on the ground, nobody move, nobody move!"

The shooter, now identified as James T. Hodgkinson, started firing off rounds from behind the third base dugout.

"You could imagine having 20 plus Congressmen, a bunch of aides, probably about 40 guys out there on the field? They're all sitting ducks."

Watson saw House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana hit the ground, shot in the hip.

When the shooter paused to reload, the rest of the group ran for their lives into the dugout behind first base.

"They were on the phone, wanted to know where their details are, why are we not responding," he added.

That's when Scalise's Capitol Police security detail arrived and started firing shots back at Hodgkinson, eventually taking him down and into custody.

"If he'd made it to our other side of the dugout without anybody returning fire it would've been like Rand Paul said, a massacre."

Watson wants the game to go on Thursday night. He is proud to be a part of an effort to unite us when our political climate is so very divided.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase that we can put two sides of a political division on one field, and play a very competitive game, and come up with a winner or loser, and be happy that in the end, we're really trying to move the ball forward for our country."

MORE

Shooting in Virginia: What we know

Lawmakers react to shooting at congressional baseball practice

'I was doing what I could to not get killed:' Scene at Congressional baseball shooting

© 2017 KVUE-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment