A man armed with a baseball bat showed up at the Fairfax, Virginia, office of Rep. Gerry Connolly Monday morning, asked for the congressman and then attacked two staffers.
The U.S. Capitol Police identified the man as 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham, of Fairfax. He is facing charges of one count of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of malicious wounding.
Capitol Police said they have launched a joint investigation with Fairfax City police.
“At this time, it is not clear what the suspect’s motivation may have been,” Capitol Police said in a statement.
Though Capitol Police said the suspect wasn’t known to the department, Connolly told The Associated Press that Pham was known to police in Fairfax County.
The attack happened in Connolly’s district office on Main Street in the City of Fairfax at about 10:40 a.m., after the man entered the first floor office, Fairfax City police said.
Both staff members’ injuries were believed to be non life-threatening, according to police.
Connolly said the two women attacked — an intern struck in the side and an outreach director hit on the head — were treated and released from a hospital, The Associated Press reported.
Fairfax City police said they responded within five minutes to the reported assault. The man was arrested and taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
In a news conference broadcast by WTOP’s partners 7News, Lisa Gardner, with Fairfax City police, told reporters other people inside the office were hiding in the office.
“It is very concerning and it’s, quite frankly, scary that someone can just walk up to an office holding a baseball and just start swinging at innocent victims,” she said.
She said police are still investigating the motive.
Pham’s father, Hy Pham, told The Washington Post his son was schizophrenic and had dealt with mental illness since his late teens.
“This was unexpected,” Gardner said.
Fairfax County Police said Pham approached a woman parked in her car about five miles away from Connolly’s office at 10:37 a.m. The man asked the woman if she was white, then hit her windshield with a bat and ran away, The Associated Press reported. The woman wasn’t injured.
A video recorded on a neighbor’s home camera system showed a man chasing a woman with a bat at the site where police said the earlier incident occurred. The woman can be heard screaming and a man is shown chasing her up a small hill before giving up and turning around.
Dan Ashley, the homeowner, said it was “troubling to see this sort of thing happening in the neighborhood.”
Connolly, a Democrat, has represented Virginia’s 11th District since 2009.
He told CNN he was not at the office at the time and was at a ribbon-cutting for a food bank. He said the attacker also damaged the office, shattering glass and breaking computers.
“My District Office staff make themselves available to constituents and members of the public every day,” Connolly said in the statement. “The thought that someone would take advantage of my staff’s accessibility to commit an act of violence is unconscionable.”
Special agents with the Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section were dispatched to Fairfax along with members of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Last month, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger testified before lawmakers that the number of threats against members of Congress has increased roughly 400% over the past six years.
“Over the course of the last year, the world has continuously changed, becoming more violent and uncertain,” Manger testified.
Other elected officials from Virginia swiftly condemned the violence.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner retweeted Connolly’s statement, calling the attack an “extraordinarily disturbing development.”
“Intimidation and violence – especially against public servants – has no place in our society,” he said.
“The coward who did this should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” tweeted Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican.
WTOP’s Mladen Petkov and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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