Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake had just taken batting practice in preparation for a charity Congressional baseball game when the first shot rang out from around the third base dugout.
Then he heard “a couple more shots – and we knew what it was,” he told reporters in the minutes after the shooting.
On Wednesday morning, five people were hospitalized, including the suspect and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise from Louisiana, when a shooter opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia.
About 25 GOP members of Congress were practicing for a game against their Democratic colleagues scheduled for Thursday.
Flake said that that after the shots rang out, he and others dived into the dugout opposite from the gunman, but the shooter, who Flake said had a rifle, “had a line of sight into the dugout.”
“I remember seeing some gravel, shots coming near us,” said Flake.
Flake said one Congressional staffer was shot on the field and ran into the dugout despite his wounds, and Flake and others worked to assist the staffer.
Meanwhile, Scalise had been shot in the hip, according to Flake, “dragged himself about 15 yards near second base onto the field and was laying motionless out there.”
Flake said he wanted to help Scalise, “but there were still shots going overhead from both sides,” between the shooter and the Capitol Police.
Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama said in a separate interview with CNN that at a certain point, the shooter came around the third base dugout towards home plate. That’s when he was shot by members of Scalise’s Capitol Police security detail.
Flake said that when he heard the shooter was down, “I ran out to Steve and started putting pressure [on his wound]. And then did that for about 10 or 15 minutes. We did that until the medics arrived.”
Brooks said that in addition to Flake, he and Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who is a veteran combat surgeon, gave first aid to Scalise, who authorities said is expected to survive.
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“It was great having [Wenstrup] there because he knew exactly what to do,” Brooks said.
In a statement, Wenstrup said, “You never expect a baseball field in America to feel like being back in a combat zone in Iraq, but this morning it did. Capitol police and emergency responders reacted swiftly and courageously — we are grateful for their presence. I urge the nation to keep Rep. Scalise and all injured in their prayers today.”
As the third-highest ranking House Republican, Scalise has a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.
Brooks said that without the Capitol Police, “We would have been at the mercy of this shooter, and he had a lot of ammo.”
“All we would have had would have been baseball bats versus a rifle,” he added. “Those aren’t very good odds.”
Sen. Rand Paul said “I think with absolute certainty nobody would have survived without capital police,” adding, “The field was basically a killing field.”