Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Capitol Police Responded to Wrong Site in Scalise Shooting

  • Elite tactical unit first sent to Pelosi’s Georgetown house
  • Squad eventually arrived at scene of shooting in Virginia

The U.S. Capitol Police department opened an internal investigation into why its elite tactical team was initially directed to respond to the wrong location when a gunman opened fire last month at a GOP congressional baseball practice, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Instead of responding directly to the Virginia field where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others were shot, members of the Capitol Police Containment and Emergency Response Team were signaled instead to go to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s house in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, several miles away, according to the two people, who asked for anonymity to speak about the sensitive incident.

"The Alexandria incident continues to be an ongoing investigation. We do not comment on ongoing investigations," Eva Malecki, a Capitol Police spokesperson, said Monday. Spokesmen for both the House and Senate sergeant at arms’ offices referred questions to Capitol Police.

The tactical squad did make it to the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, where the shooting took place and it’s unclear how much time the unit lost because of the mix-up. It also wasn’t clear whether the squad arrived at Pelosi’s house or was redirected en route.

One of the people familiar with the incident said police are saying the unit’s delayed reaction had no operational impact. Local Alexandria police officers responded quickly to the shooting site.

Investigators are still reviewing how and why the initial misdirection occurred. One possibility being reviewed is a transponder mix-up, or a transponder code being used for the wrong congressional leader, said the people familiar with the events.

The shooting sparked new concerns about the safety of lawmakers when they aren’t on the Capitol grounds, and this mix-up could cause further alarm.

Congressional Republicans were practicing a day before their annual baseball game against Democrats when a gunman opened fire on June 14.

Scalise of Louisiana and three others were wounded before the shooter, James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, was shot and killed. 

Police have said two Capitol Police officers were already at the field because they were assigned to Scalise’s security detail. They were the first to return fire at the gunman. Quick-arriving Alexandria police officers also took fire from the gunman. Authorities haven’t said which officers fired the fatal shots.

Scalise was seriously injured. He underwent multiple surgeries and was released from the hospital last week.

President Donald Trump last Thursday awarded three members of the Alexandria police department and two U.S. Capitol Police special agents the nation’s highest honor for public safety officers.

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