Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) had just finished his last baseball practice Wednesday morning at the Democratic practice facility at Gallaudet University in Washington in preparation for the next day’s annual congressional baseball game.
Then he and his teammates received the shocking news that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, had been shot and critically injured along with five others on the Republican baseball team at their practice in Alexandria.
“Coach [Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Mike Doyle] called us in and told us what had happened,” Polis said. “At that point we didn’t know if there was a live shooter or if we were under threat. We had a couple security details with us and they kept us in the dugout until the swat team arrived and cleared the perimeter for us to return to our cars.”
Polis, who is Jewish, said at that moment he and his teammates were in shock and said a prayer. “It never occurred to us that there could be a threat at a baseball practice,” he said.
The Colorado Democrat has participated in the annual charity game every year since he was elected to Congress in 2008. He said he has gotten to know Scalise well and called him “friendly and outgoing.”
When asked whether Wednesday’s shooting showed a need for additional security at future congressional baseball games or practices, Polis said he thought that decision would best be left to the sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police.
Asked if the shooting would prompt renewed calls for additional gun control measures, Polis declined to comment.
“I think all of us are just hoping that the victims will recover and that they’re able to return to their health,” he said.
Polis said the tragedy did not dampen the mood of his teammates heading into Thursday’s game.