Rep. Joe Barton, the visibly shaken manager of the GOP congressional baseball team that came under fire Wednesday morning, confirmed that his young son was at the practice when a gunman opened fire — and acted courageously to stay safe.
Standing next to his 10-year-old son, Jack — the pair still wearing their baseball caps — Barton’s voice broke when he spoke about the chaotic scene that morning when shots rang out.
“Some of us were in the dugout. Some of us were on the ground. I was behind the dugout. My son Jack got under an SUV. He was very brave,” he told CBS News.
The Texas Republican, 67, also confirmed that his 46-year-old son was also present at the practice and sought safety as shots rang out.
“My other son, Brad, was in the batting cage and he also was brave,” he said.
Barton confirmed the team was at batting practice when the shooter appeared and aimed at team members.
“He shot at Trent Kelly, our third basemen, he shot at Steve Scalise, our second basemen. He hit Steve Scalise,” he said, his voice breaking.
“Scalise’s security detail and Capitol Hill police immediately began to return fire,” he continued. “They shot the shooter and I think the security detail saved a lot of lives because they attacked the shooter.”
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The deceased gunman has been identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and the Vermont senator later said he was “sickened” by the violent act.
In a separate interview after the shooting, Barton told congressional reporters that he never saw the shooter or the weapon “until after the fact.”
“I was getting down, protecting, making sure my son was down and I did not see him when it was an active shooting situation,” he said, his voice breaking.
Barton also told reporters that no decision has been made about whether the annual congressional game will go on as planned.
“This is a charity baseball game. We played it for almost a hundred years. … I hope we continue the game. It’s what, in some ways, what democracy is all about.”