House

GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was ‘suicide by cop’

Getty Images

An Ohio lawmaker is seeking a review of the FBI’s investigation into the 2017 shooting of Republican lawmakers as they practiced for a congressional baseball game, arguing the bureau erred in its conclusion that the shooter sought “suicide by cop.”

The call comes from Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), one of the lawmakers on the field in June 2017 when a shooter opened fire on the practice, shooting four people and seriously wounding House Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

The FBI briefed lawmakers a few months after the incident that shooter, who supported left-wing causes on social media and inquired about the political affiliation of those on the field, was largely carried out as a suicide attempt. But their conclusion was never made public.

In a letter dated last week but released to reporters Wednesday, Wenstrup criticized the FBI’s conclusion.

“This conclusion defies logic and contradicts the publicly known facts about the perpetrator and the attack. The shooter had an extensive social media record highlighting his hatred of President Trump and Republicans,” Wenstrup wrote.

“He was heavily armed, sought cover during the shooting, well over 100 rounds were fired, and the attacker could not have known that then-Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s security detail was present given that they were in an undercover vehicle and in plain clothes. All these facts are inconsistent with a designation of ‘suicide by cop,’ ” he wrote.

The letter, which was first reported by Politico, asked the FBI’s counterterrorism division to review the findings. Wenstrup also said the FBI never formally interviewed any lawmakers as witnesses.

The FBI did not respond to request for comment.

Other Republicans present on the field that day shared Wenstrup’s frustration with the FBI’s conclusion.

“We were furious about it,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told The Hill Wednesday. “But it went nowhere.”

“The guy had an assassination list in his pocket, he asked [Rep.] Jeff Duncan beforehand, ‘Are these Democrats or Republicans,’ he was a radicalized Bernie Sanders supporter,” he said.

Loudermilk went on to describe shooter James Hodgkinson as pivoting between firing at lawmakers and the Capitol Police officers who were drawing fire away from them.

“That’s not what somebody does when they just want to die,” Loudermilk said.

Wenstrup asked about the FBI’s determination in a little-noticed exchange with Director Christopher Wray last week during a House Intelligence Committee hearing.  

Wray responded that he had not been FBI director at the time of the “horrific, horrific attack at that baseball field on that day.”

Wray did not, however, commit to reviewing the conclusion.

“I have been committed since I started this job to making sure that the FBI does the right thing in the right way. And I’ve tried to instill that message to everything we do,” he said.

Scott Wong contributed.

Tags 2017 baseball shooting Barry Loudermilk Bernie Sanders Brad Wenstrup Christopher Wray congressional baseball game Donald Trump FBI Jeff Duncan Steve Scalise
See all Hill.TV See all Video