Government & Politics

In their own words: Missouri, Kansas members of Congress react to shooting

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, was supposed to be at Wednesday morning’s congressional baseball practice where a gunman opened fire. But Marshall didn’t go.

“Truly, (I) just had an eerie feeling all week about it,” Marshall said later in the day. “It just didn’t ever feel safe there. And (I) just had an inkling I didn’t need to be there this morning. I can’t really explain it ... Call it Providence, call it what you want to.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican and majority whip, was among the five shot in Alexandria, Va., where congressional Republicans were practicing in advance of Thursday’s scheduled Congressional Baseball Game. Victims also included two Capitol police officers, an aide to U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Texas and a government relations director for Tyson foods.

“It’s a shocking day in my life. Was certainly very shaken this morning and just now getting my composure back. I’m very, very close to Steve Scalise,” Marshall said. “...He was so enthusiastic about this baseball game. He’s the guy that’s there every day at practice, diving after baseballs, chatting it up and getting everybody fired up.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican from Overland Park, said he’d been planning to attend the practice but, like Marshall, didn’t end up going.

“I have just really never felt such a subdued, somber mood in Congress,” Yoder said. “People were really shaken. People were crying, hugging each other ... If there’s any silver lining in today’s tragedy, it’s that my colleagues and I are taking time to reflect on our deep divisions and the caustic tone of Congressional debate and remember we are all on the same team.

“Maybe it’s a mere moment, maybe it won’t last. But this has been a unifying moment in Congress.”

Other members of Congress from Kansas and Missouri shared their thoughts:

▪ Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican: “Today and every day I am thankful for the efforts of the United States Capitol Police and all who work to keep those who serve in Congress and our staff safe.”

▪ Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat: “We need to pray for the injured. We need to praise the Capitol Police, then we need to focus on ourselves. The most important lesson we can take out of this is to tone down our rhetoric.”

▪ Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, in a speech on the Senate floor: “We are always brought at moments like this to the important recognition that we’re Americans first. That’s why our country will always be a beacon of freedom. But the things we debate every day are not nearly as big or powerful as the things that unite us every day.”

Lindsay Wise and Matthew Schofield of the McClatchy Washington Bureau, Dion Lefler of The Wichita Eagle, and The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this report.