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Florida Lawmakers Call For Unity In Wake Of Alexandria Shooting

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Expressions of sympathy and unity are being expressed online by Florida lawmakers in the wake of the deadly shooting in Alexandria, Virginia in which the House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was injured.

Police say just after 7 a.m. a gunman, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson from Belleville, IL, opened fire on a group of Republican congressmen and their aides as they practiced for a charity game this week.

Hodgkinson’s social media accounts indicate that he was against President Donald Trump and supported Sen. Bernie Sanders. He even worked on Sanders’ campaign during the election.

Sanders addressed that on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

“Madame President, I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act and let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable is our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

Hodgkinson reportedly emerged from behind the third base dugout, armed with an M4 assault rifle and a pistol, and began shooting. More than 50 shots were fired, according to CBS News.

Scalise was shot in the hip while fielding balls near second base. The 51-year-old Republican from Louisianna was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he underwent surgery and is now listed as critical. One of his staffers was shot in the leg.

Capitol police assigned to Scalise security detail returned Hodgkinson’s fire. He was hit and taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries.

Support and prayers for the injured crossed party lines.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-FL was at the practice but left minutes before the shooting to take his kids to school.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you,” said Rooney when asked if he had a message for Scalise.

Blaise Ingoglia, who chairs the Republican Party of Florida, issued the following statement.

“Today, the Republican Party of Florida joins this nation in prayer for the unfortunate shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. The events that unfolded this morning are sad and overwhelming. But we thank U.S. Capitol Police and first responders for their swift and brave actions. Rest assured their immediate response helped save lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, staff and the Capitol Police that fell victim to this horrific event.”

“Increasingly, Americans think violence is the way to resolve political differences or to address political differences. If that’s going to change in our country, it has to change here,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said. “Inertia is also very powerful. I worry that in a few days, maybe in a few weeks, the memory of this morning wears off.”

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson also issued a statement which read in part:

“Today, in a shocking act of violence, a gunman fired at House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, two members of his security detail, and two staffers during the congressional charity baseball game practice. I am grateful that their wounds are not fatal and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

Shortly after word of the shooting spread to House Democrats who were practicing at another baseball field, they immediately stopped their practice and prayed for their Republican counterparts.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Steve Scalise, the staff, Capitol Police, and all those who were injured and traumatized by this deplorable, cowardly shooting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “As a co-captain and founder of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game I know I join my bipartisan teammates, staff and volunteers in sending our love, best wishes for a quick recovery and support for our colleagues who were injured, as well as our thanks to the Capitol Police and law enforcement for their expert response.”

Just after 11:30 a.m., President Trump made a four-minute televised statement on the shooting.

“Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” said Mr. Trump.

The President also called for unity.

“We are strong when we are unified and work together for the common good,” said the President.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during a public appearance near Tucson, Arizona in 2011, tweeted out:

Law enforcement is treating the shooting as a criminal matter, not an act of terrorism. The FBI, which is heading the investigation, said it was too soon to say if this was an assassination attempt.

Because Scalise is a member of the House leadership, all votes scheduled for Wednesday were canceled. The White House also canceled President Donald Trump’s only scheduled event for the day.

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