Staffer shot at congressional baseball practice recalls ‘running for my life’

WASHINGTON — The congressional staffer shot in the leg by an assault rifle-wielding gunman Wednesday at a baseball practice session for Republican lawmakers was in the outfield of the Alexandria, Virginia, baseball diamond when he heard a loud pop.

“And everything stops, time slows down, and I’m wondering what’s going on,” said Zach Barth, a congressional aide for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, who recalled the terrifying experience in an interview with Fox News Thursday morning.

Barth said he heard someone scream ‘He’s got a gun,’ before he saw the shooter near the third-base dugout begin taking deliberate aim at players on the field.

Authorities say 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, who had been living out of his van in Alexandria for the past two months, opened fire on the GOP lawmakers Wednesday morning, critically injuring House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, and a lobbyist for Tyson Foods. Two Capitol Police officers who exchanged gunfire with Hodgkinson were also injured.

Barth, who had been transported to the hospital after the shooting, was back at the Capitol and back on his feet for the TV interview. Williams also injured his ankle during the shooting.

Barth said there was nowhere for him to run when the gunman began firing, so he dropped to the ground. “And then I see him turn his gun toward me and it just starts popping all around me,” he said.

One bullet struck his leg. “At that point, my adrenaline is pumping and my fight or flight reflexes take control,” Barth said. “And I decide if I want to live, I need to get to better cover, so I sprint — running for my life — down to the first-base dugout and I just jump in. And I jump into the arms of the congressman.”

Williams told The Today Show another congressman in the dugout, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., removed his belt, which Williams used as a tourniquet to stanch the bleeding from Barth’s leg wound.

Williams praised the actions of Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey who were both injured in the gunfight with Hodgkinson. Griner was shot in the ankle and transported to the hospital in good condition.

“The thin blue line worked,” Williams said during The Today Show interview. “These two officers were fabulous. They saved all of our lives. There’s no question that it would have been different if they hadn’t been there. And we owe it all to them.”

Scalise, who was shot in the hip, remains in critical condition at MedStar Washington Health Center. Scalise, who was visited by President Donald Trump Wednesday evening, has undergone surgery but needs additional operations, the hospital said.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Baseball Game, which is played for charity, will go on as scheduled at Nationals Park Thursday evening.

“We do hope people come to the game tonight,” Williams said. “I would hope that Nats stadium could be full … It’s the right time to play this game.”

He added: “We need to play this game. It’s baseball, it’s America. And when America gets punched, America punches back, and we’ll do that tonight.”

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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