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Gunman opens fire on Republicans during baseball practice

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Gunman dies from injuries after opening fire on Republican members of US Congress

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA A gunman opened fire on Republican members of the US Congress during congressional baseball practice near Washington yesterday. He wounded several people including senior Republican leader Steve Scalise, before he was taken into custody badly injured, police and witnesses said.

Five people were transported from the scene, the city's Police Chief Michael Brown told reporters.

Two of the wounded were Capitol Hill police who were at the scene, witnesses said.

The incident happened in the Del Ray neighbourhood, which is across the Potomac River from Washington.

Mr Scalise's office said he was in stable condition and undergoing surgery. US President Donald Trump said in a tweet that Mr Scalise was "badly injured but will fully recover".

Mr Scalise, a representative from Louisiana, is the House of Representatives Majority Whip, making him the third-highest ranked member of the Republican leadership in the House.

Representative Joe Barton of Texas told reporters that the gunman was a middle-aged man who appeared to be white.

Law enforcement officials identified him as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Illinois.

Mr Trump said in a statement from the White House that Hodgkinson had died from injuries he received during the shooting.

America is praying for all the victims of this terrible shooting, Mr Trump said, describing it as a "very, very brutal assault".

"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," he added.

Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama told CNN that he caught a glimpse of the gunman, and that he was shooting near a chain link fence behind the third base on the field.

"There must have been 50 to 100 shots fired... I heard Steve Scalise over near second base scream. He was shot," said Mr Brooks. "One of our security detail was shooting back, but it was our pistol versus the shooter's rifle. The only weapon I had was a baseball bat."

When Mr Scalise was shot, he went down on the infield between first and second base, then dragged himself into the grassy outfield as the incident unfolded, with a trail of blood following, Mr Brooks said.

The Republican lawmakers were at an early morning practice ahead of a baseball game against the Democrats today.

Mr David Miller, who saw the shooting, said some players were able to run for shelter, while others were pinned down in the middle of the ball field.

"There was absolutely no shelter. They were in the middle of the ball park," he said.

"They can't run. If they get up, they are a target."

Mr Trump said in a statement that he and Vice-President Mike Pence were monitoring developments closely.

Ms Reba Winstead, who lives near the park, said: "I was on my front porch when I heard the first round of shots. There were a dozen shots. There was a pause. Then there was more shooting. I called 911." - REUTERS

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