Mir­a­cle On Base­ball Di­a­mond One Year Ago

MANY LIVES SPARED IN CON­GRES­SIONAL SHOOT­ING

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - BASEBALL VS. TERRORISM - By Mark Humphrey

Ev­ery gen­er­a­tion ex­pe­ri­ences a mir­a­cle, but this gen­er­a­tion may not fully com­pre­hend or even rec­og­nize theirs.

The term “gunned down” as typ­i­cally associated with base­ball refers to an out­fielder throw­ing out a base run­ner, but the stark re­al­ity of an at­tack that oc­curred one year ago At about 7:06 a.m. on June 14, 2017.

Con­gres­sional Base­ball Shoot­ing

At about 7:06 a.m. on June 14, James T. Hodgkin­son, 66, of Belleville, Ill., walked up to a chain-link fence that prov­i­den­tially had a gate pad­locked. He ap­proached from the third­base side with a good view of sev­eral Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress and oth­ers prac­tic­ing on a base­ball field at Alexan­dria, Va., in prepa­ra­tion for the an­nual Con­gres­sional base­ball game be­tween Repub­li­cans and Democrats fundraiser for char­ity.

Hodgkin­son opened fire with a ri­fle and wounded five peo­ple in­clud­ing Rep. Steven Scalise (R-La.), House Ma­jor­ity Whip, who was play­ing the field near sec­ond base and Tyson lob­by­ist Matthew Mika, who was sta­tioned near first base. When the shoot­ing be­gan, sev­eral mem­bers of Congress and coaches were near home plate all in plain sight of the shooter.

Scalise was struck in the hip by a bul­let and went down near sec­ond base. Mika was shot in the chest and also went down dur­ing the sur­prise at­tack.

Ter­ror­ist Act De­fined

On Oct. 6, Bryan L. Porter, Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney, City of Alexan­dria, Va., re­leased a Use of Force In­ves­ti­ga­tion and Anal­y­sis re­port to the pub­lic re­gard­ing the in­ci­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “the ev­i­dence in this case es­tab­lishes beyond a rea­son­able doubt that the sus­pect, fu­eled by rage against Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors, de­cided to com­mit an act of ter­ror­ism as that term is de­fined by the Code of Vir­ginia.”

The re­port states the sus­pect, us­ing a law­fully-pur­chased as­sault ri­fle and hand­gun, am­bushed a peace­ful assem­bly of peo­ple prac­tic­ing base­ball and be­gan to fire in­dis­crim­i­nately in an ef­fort to kill and maim as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

Di­a­bol­i­cal Game Plan

For all of his plan­ning and prac­tice, Hodgkin­son failed mis­er­ably.

The re­port doc­u­ments a cit­i­zen told po­lice that on June 10, 2017, he ob­served Hodgkin­son exit his van and walk around Simp­son Field. There was no base­ball prac­tice oc­cur­ring at the time. The cit­i­zen found the sus­pect’s be­hav­ior odd, and af­ter hear­ing of the shoot­ing, be­lieved the sus­pect had been “cas­ing” the field. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, at least one mem­ber of the Repub­li­can base­ball team re­mem­bered see­ing Hodgkin­son sit­ting in the Simp­son Field stands and watch­ing the team prac­tice on the morn­ing be­fore the shoot­ing, June 13, 2017.

Me­dia files re­cov­ered from Hodgkin­son’s phone show video of Simp­son Field that was recorded in April 2017. Af­ter the in­ci­dent, sev­eral wit­nesses re­ported see­ing him walk­ing around Simp­son Field in May. Porter writes in the re­port, “From these facts, it may be in­ferred that the sus­pect had al­ready se­lected Simp­son Field as a po­ten­tial tar­get as early as April, 2017.”

Hodgkin­son had also pre­vi­ously come to the at­ten­tion of po­lice in his home state of Illi­nois for tar­get prac­tice shoot­ing but had not vi­o­lated the law at that point.

All For Naught

All of his tac­ti­cal train­ing went for naught. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Hodgkin­son fired a to­tal of at least 70 rounds, in­clud­ing 62 fired through the ri­fle and eight rounds fired through a 9mm hand­gun. At least one wit­ness saw the bar­rel of the ri­fle ex­tend through the chain-link fence.

Zachary W. Barth, a leg­isla­tive correspondent for Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Roger Wil­liams (R-Texas), fled cen­ter field when the shoot­ing be­gan. Barth ran to the warn­ing track in right-field side but found no exit and was hit in his left lower leg while lay­ing prone on the ground.

None of Hodgkin­son’s in­tended vic­tims, in­clud­ing a list of six Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress found in his pocket, died.

Firearms Com­pe­tency

The Re­port es­tab­lishes Hodgkin­son’s com­pe­tency with a firearm. Spe­cial Agent Crys­tal Griner, who along with Spe­cial Agent David Bai­ley of the United States Capi­tol Po­lice were as­signed to pro­tect Scalise, was wounded while ex­chang­ing gun­fire with Hodgkin­son. Ac­cord­ing to the Re­port, Griner took a di­rect hit in her left an­kle while stand­ing with her left leg ex­tended past the rear of a ve­hi­cle.

Sev­eral play­ers suf­fered scrapes, sprains and other mi­nor in­juries try­ing to take cover, but no­body ex­cept Hodgkin­son died. He was even­tu­ally killed by po­lice.

How could Hodgkin­son miss so fre­quently? How could that num­ber of bul­lets be fired in rapid suc­ces­sion with­out killing any­one?

Hard Not To Miss

Dur­ing a June 20, 2017, in­ter­view with David Bar­ton on “Wall builder’s Live” Con­gress­man Barry Lou­d­er­milk (R-Ga.) re­vealed he was stand­ing at home plate pre­par­ing to bat wear­ing a bright yel­low Kennesaw State Uni­ver­sity base­ball jersey when the shoot­ing be­gan.

Lou­d­er­milk was a tar­get as he fled the base­ball di­a­mond.

“As I go out the gate I hear a clink and ap­par­ently a bul­let hit the fence,” Lou­d­er­milk told Bar­ton. “What is the dis­tance from third base to first base? That’s not a very hard throw of a base­ball. Add an­other 10 feet to that stand­ing out­side the fence at third base, that’s not a hard shot to take.”

The to­tal dis­tance mea­sures less than 50 yards. Later, af­ter the shooter repo­si­tioned him­self he was within 40 yards. Lou­d­er­milk said he could ac­tu­ally hear bul­lets go­ing past be­fore he got to a wooden shed just out­side the gate.

His­tor­i­cal Prece­dent

To find any­thing even re­motely com­pa­ra­ble in Amer­i­can his­tory, one has to go back 263 years to the Bat­tle of Monon­ga­hela in 1755 when a young Lt. Col. Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton was part of a com­bined force of Bri­tish troops and colo­nial mili­tia over­whelmed by French and In­di­ans fight­ing from the cover of the for­est.

Bri­tish com­man­der Ma­jor Gen­eral Brad­dock was killed dur­ing the bat­tle and Wash­ing­ton was the only of­fi­cer left on horse­back. He or­ga­nized a re­treat.

Wash­ing­ton wrote from Fort Cumberland to his younger brother, John Au­gus­tine Wash­ing­ton, July 18, 1755: “All the ru­mors you’ve heard about my death are wrong. I am alive. I now ex­ist and ap­pear in the land of the liv­ing by the mirac­u­lous care of Prov­i­dence that pro­tected me beyond all hu­man prob­a­bil­ity or ex­pec­ta­tion. I had four bul­let holes in my coat and two horses shot un­der me, yet es­caped un­hurt.”

Divine In­ter­ven­tion

Fif­teen years later Wash­ing­ton vis­ited the bat­tle­field where he was met by a group of In­di­ans. An aged chief, who once or­dered his braves to shoot Wash­ing­ton and all of­fi­cers dur­ing the bat­tle, heard he was com­ing and trav­eled a great dis­tance to of­fer greet­ings.

“I am a chief, and the ruler over many tribes. My in­flu­ence ex­tends to the wa­ters of the great lakes, and to the far blue moun­tains. I have trav­eled a long and weary path, that I might see the young war­rior of the great bat­tle. It was on the day, when the white man’s blood, mixed with the streams of our for­est, that I first be­held this chief.”

The chief called to his young war­riors in­struct­ing them, “Mark yon tall and dar­ing war­rior? He is not of the red-coat tribe- he hath an In­dian’s wis­dom, and his war­riors fight as we do- him­self is alone ex­posed. Quick, let your aim be cer­tain, and he dies.”

The chief re­called their ri­fles were lev­eled, ri­fles which, but for Wash­ing­ton, knew not how to miss.

“Twas all in vain, a power might­ier far than we, shielded him from harm,” the chief said. “He can­not die in bat­tle.”

Prophetic Ut­ter­ance

At their meet­ing in 1770, the chief stated, “I am old, and soon shall be gath­ered to the great coun­cil-fire of my fathers, in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is some­thing, bids me speak, in the voice of prophecy. Lis­ten! The Great Spirit pro­tects that man, and guides his des­tinies- he will be­come the chief of na­tions, and a peo­ple yet un­born, will hail him as the founder of a mighty em­pire!”

His­tory has re­peated it­self and many Amer­i­cans don’t seem to re­al­ize this fact in spite of over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence point­ing to­ward mirac­u­lous divine in­ter­ven­tion that spared mul­ti­ple lives on the base­ball di­a­mond a year ago on June 14, 2017.

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Con­gress­man Steve Wo­mack, shown speak­ing at a send­off he hosted for ap­pointees to mil­i­tary ser­vice acad­e­mies in 2017, has ap­pointed lo­cal ath­letes, Zeke Laird of Prairie Grove to West Point in 2017 and Ja­van Jow­ers of Farm­ing­ton to the Air Force...

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