Before Rep. Steve Scalise and four others were shot during baseball practice, a man stopped to ask the group if they were Republicans or Democrats? The rumor began when CNN’s Rebecca Berg tweeted that Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina “to give a statement to police regarding a conversation he had with the shooter before leaving practice early.” Berg added, “The man was wearing running clothes, asked Duncan, “Are those Republicans or Democrats out there practicing?”
The suspect in the shooting has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois.
While Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida told Fox Business:
We reported to police that there was a gentleman that confronted us when we were going to our car and he wanted to know whether it was Republicans or Democrats that were out there. We said it was Republicans and he kind of started walking to the field.
I don’t know if that was the guy, but I think it’s important to put that information out there and it was a little bit different than someone would do that. He was really interested in wanting to know who was out there.
Rep. Jeff Flake described the gunman as wearing jeans, not running clothes.
Rep. Mo Brooks described the suspect to CNN as a white male who was “a little bit on the chubby side.” While NBC’s Julie Carey spoke to a witness who described the suspect as being “middle aged white man, white hair and beard armed with assault rifle.”
The gunman was armed with an M4 assault rifle. ABC News reports that the ATF is doing an “urgent trace” on the gun. The FBI has taken over the investigation. An spokesman said that agents were “not aware” of a man asking the group about party affiliation. The spokesman added that it was “too early to tell if they were targeted or now.”
The notion that the gunman was also the man who asked if it was “Republicans or Democrats practicing” has been seized upon by the conservative media: