Sen. Cory Gardner calls for end to divisive rhetoric in wake of Washington, D.C., shooting
June 14, 2017
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Sen. Cory Gardner on Wednesday called for an end to intense, violent rhetoric in the wake of a shooting in Alexandria, Va., that left several people injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.
The shooting happened early Wednesday morning, during practice for an annual charity baseball game between Democrats and Republicans. Along with Scalise, a member of the Capitol Police was injured.
None of the injuries are reported to be life threatening, but the shooting still sent shockwaves across the Capitol. The gunman died from his wounds after police gunned him down.
Gardner, R-Colo., said he's friends with Scalise and was stunned when he saw the news during a CNN broadcast. It was chilling, too, Gardner said, to know one of the members of Congress had his 10-year-old son with him at the baseball practice.
“Everyone on that field is a public servant. Their sacrifice makes democracy possible.
— Donald Trump, U.S. president
Although Gardner said time needs to be taken to fully understand the incident, the Washington Post on Wednesday afternoon was reporting the gunman, James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, was critical of President Donald Trump on social media.
"I think, from what we've seen, and what we've heard, that the rhetoric on the left and the right has gotten too intense and needs to stop," Gardner said.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said Republicans and Democrats were practicing in preparation for an annual baseball game that raises money for charity. The game was to take place Thursday at the Washington Nationals stadium, and typically draws 15,000-20,000 people.
"It's a long tradition, and it raises money for charity," Buck said in a phone interview with The Tribune on Wednesday. "It's a real dark moment on a real positive event."
Buck wasn't at the practice. Instead, he was preparing for a radio interview on another subject when he received a text from his communications director.
"I'm sure it will change people's lives forever," Buck said. "That somebody would shoot into a crowd like that. It's sad, and it's a reminder that we live in a dangerous world."
He said he texted friends in Colorado to let them know he was safe.
One Capitol Police officer was injured responding to the attack, and Gardner credited police with preventing a greater tragedy.
"They acted heroically this morning," Gardner said. "Had they not been there, this could have been even worse."
Buck said the Capitol was crawling with officers, and tighter security was highly visible, particularly with the number of tourists in town at the start of summer.
As for the response going forward, Gardner said it's about everyone being their better selves. Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., have worked well together in the Senate, and Gardner said he hopes that can be a model going forward.
"We as an American community need to come together and stop these horrendous acts from happening," Gardner said.
Colorado Democrat Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll issued a release late Wednesday condemning the "senseless violence."
"Violence is never the answer, no matter what political opinion you may have, and we strongly condemn these horrific actions," her statement read.
— Tyler Silvy covers government and politics for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.