Scalise says his shooter had a 'political agenda'

Scalise says his shooter had a 'political agenda'
© Greg Nash

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Sunday discussed the "political agenda" behind the shooter who opened fire on the GOP congressional baseball team, injuring Scalise and four others.

The shooter's "sick, twisted agenda" motivated him to try to take Scalise's life as well as kill the other Republican lawmakers playing ball, Scalise told host Norah O'Donnell on CBS's "60 Minutes" in his first interview since the shooting.

"I think it was clear he had a political agenda if you want to even call it that," he said.

The shooting came at a time when anger at Congress was indicated among voters polled. The baseball practice was for a Republican team.

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"And it's a sick, twisted agenda. I don't think he could of been in the right frame of mind. But it was clear what his intentions were," Scalise continued, when asked whether the shooter might have targeted him because of his party.

Scalise, who was shot while playing on second base, tried to crawl to safety after gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire on the players with a rifle and a 9 mm handgun at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., in mid-June.

"When I went down, you know, my first instinct was to try to get away from the gunfire. So I started crawling. And you know that's when my arms gave out," Scalise said, recalling that he then began to pray, which gave him a sense of "calmness."

"It was a weird calmness while I'm hearing the gunfire. You know the first thing that came to mind. I prayed, 'God, please don't let my daughter have to walk up the aisle alone.' That was the first thing that came to mind," Scalise told O'Donnell.

After a shootout that lasted about 10 minutes with nearly 100 rounds of gunfire exchanged, Scalise and four other people were injured and the shooter was dead.

Scalise said he did not initially understand the extent of his injuries. And despite being shot, he never saw the man who pulled the trigger.

"I knew I was shot — didn't know how bad it was. You know, in a weird way, your body kind of goes numb. You know, as bad as the wounds were, and obviously I know now how severe it was. At the time, I guess my body had been shutting down a lot of the real pain," he said.

Scalise endured multiple surgeries and physical therapy following the shooting.

"I found out later just how much damage was done internally. You know, I mean, my femur was shattered. The hip and pelvis had serious damage where the bullet went through and, you know, did some damage to areas that had to be shored up with steel plates and — then they did a phenomenal job of rebuilding, you know, kind of the, rebuildin' Humpty Dumpty. I mean, there were, there was a lot of damage inside that — that had to get fixed," Scalise said.

Others who were on the field call it a blessing that Scalise was attending the practice at the time. His leadership status in the House, as majority whip, meant he had a security detail with him that was able to confront the shooter.

Scalise returned to Congress on Thursday, earning a standing ovation on the House floor.