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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  June 14, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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[gunfire] >> pelley: members of congress under attack. a gunman opens fire on republicans practicing for a charity ballgame. >> as soon as the gunman is down, i ran out to steve. >> pelley: house majority whip steve scalise of louisiana is critically wounded. >> many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two capitol police officers who took down the gunman. >> pelley: outrage at the capitol. >> i am sickened by this despicable act. >> pelley: but unity, too, as democrats pray for their g.o.p. colleagues. >> an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. [applause] >> this is
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captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. reporting tonight from washington. >> pelley: congressman steve scalise of louisiana, the third ranking republican in the house, is in critical condition tonight after a shooting that has shaken this great capitol. but it has also left the capitol more unified than it has been in a very long time. [gunfire] the gunman opened fire this morning on republican members of the house and senate on a ball field in alexandria, virginia, about five miles from capitol hill. they were practicing for tomorrow night's charity game to be played against a team of democrats. four people, including the 51-year-old congressman, were shot. another, capitol police officer crystal griner, is in good condition tonight. two others suffered minor injuries. the gunman, a homeless man,
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angry with the republican party, was fatally shot by the police. we have extensive coverage from a team of correspondents, and first we'll go to chip reid in alexandria. >> reporter: just after 7:00 a.m., batting practice was wrapping up when the first shots rang out. [gunfire] a bystander's video captured the sound of bullets piercing the air. tennessee congressman chuck fleishmann and others sprinted to the dugout where he says they felt like sitting ducks. >> today i experienced the carnage of actual gunshots being fired firsthand. it was horrific. >> reporter: witnesses say it soon became a gun battle between the shooter and police. congressman joe barton, who manages the team, was there with his ten-year-old son jack. they took cover under a nearby s.u.v. >> dozens if not hundreds of shots fired. it was scary. >> reporter: congressman rodney davis was taking batting practice when the attack began. >> i heard a loud noise.
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it felt like a construction site dropping a large piece of metal. the next thing i heard was, "run. he's got a gun." >> reporter: witnesses say the gunman approached a fence along the third base line but never got on the field. republican whip steve scalise standing along third base got shot first. other lawmakers took cover in the first base dugout. teammates say scalise dragged himself across the field, leaving a trail of blood. after the attack was over, senator jeff flake and others ran to his aid. >> he was just laying on the field. he got shot in the hip. so we applied pressure and tried to stop the bleeding there. >> reporter: also shot, zachary bart, a staff member for congressman roger william, and matt mika, who used to work on a hill but now is a lobbyist. two capitol police officers were also wounded, david bailey and crystal griner.
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congressman william, who injured his ankle during the shooting, says without the security detail it could have been a massacre. >> there could have easily been 25 deaths or more today. but officers griner and bailey prevented, that and my family and i will be forever grateful. >> reporter: congressman jeff duncan left just before the shooting began, but he believes he encountered the gunman. >> i had an interaction with someone who asked me if the team practicing were democrats or republicans. i said republicans. he said, "okay. thanks." and he turned around. >> reporter: hours after the attack members of the team still had their uniforms on, still trying to process what happened and how to move on. >> what we have to remember is this: the american people... excuse me. the american people are great people, and we have great values. we represent great people every day.
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>> reporter: in all four people were shot by the assailant. congressman scalise is in critical condition after surgery. lobbyist matt mika is also in critical condition. he was shot twice in the chest. officer griner was shot in the ankle. she is in good condition, and finally staffer zack barth was shot in the leg. he is in good condition. scott, members of the house have decided not to give in to fear. the annual congressional baseball game will be held as scheduled tomorrow. >> pelley: chip reid at the scene of the assault. well, at least for a day there was rare unity on capitol hill. here's nancy cordes. >> reporter: a show of force at the capitol today. long security lines and armed patrols guarding a shaken congress. >> we can't let him win and he won't. >> reporter: the shooting prompted a pause in partnership. >> an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. [applause]
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>> reporter: this attack wounded a very well-known member. >> we're still not there yet. >> reporter: as majority whip, steve scalise is responsible for counting votes and changing minds. a role reserved for those with the power of persuasion. >> he loves this place. i have never seen him in a bad mood. i know he must be. he's human. >> reporter: unlike scalise, most rank-and-file members do not have a security detail. new york republican claudia tenney got this menacing e-mail today: one down, 216 to go. a man who threatened arizona's martha mcsally will be arraigned this week. >> when you see some of the things going on out there, it's like the frog in the water where you're turning the temperature up one degree at a time. as i said when the man was arrested, threats of violence and acts of violence are not so far apart. >> reporter: some members asked today whether they could use campaign funds to pay for more protection. missouri's claire mccaskill
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said she's not sure that's the answer. >> at the end of the day, i like that i drive to the grocery store and talk to women and men in the produce department about what's going on. >> reporter: many lawmakers argue they need to turn the microscope on themselves, dialing down political rhetoric that has divided the nation. >> i implore all of us to remember that we are first americans. >> reporter: a number of lawmakers described today's incident as a wake-up call. as one senator put it, scott, congress can set a tone for the nation, showing that you can disagree without animosity. >> pelley: our chief congressional correspondent, nancy cordes. nancy, thank you. the 66-year-old gunman was from belleville, illinois, but jeff pegues tells us he had been living out of his van in alexandria, virginia, since march. >> reporter: in 2011,
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hodgkinson, who was active politically, was interviewed in an occupy wall street protest. >> 99% are getting pushed around and the 1% are just not giving a damn. >> reporter: he was also known to post anti-republican comments online. on facebook recently, he was direct about his disdain for the president. "trump is a traitor, and he's destroyed our democracy," he wrote on march 22nd. "it's try to destroy trump and company." two days later, march 24th, neighbors near his home in belleville, illinois, called police to complain of a subject in the pine trees shooting. according to the sheriff's office, it was hodgkinson, and deputies told him not to discharge his weapon in the area. he did have a valid firearms license and was not charged. just yesterday hodgkinson posted on the phase back page of a group called "terminate the republican party," calling the republicans "theefg" and "cheating."
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mary ellen o'toole is a former f.b.i. profiler. >> one of the primary personality traits is someone who is an injustice collector. this is someone who goes through life and they look for grievances that are occurring to them, and they blame other people for it. >> reporter: in 2006, hodgkinson was arrested when he punched a woman in the face and threatened another man in the home with a shotgun, hitting him with the weapon and then firing a shot as the man ran away. >> we have another one now. we have a total of five down. >> reporter: investigators are now tracing the assault rifle and handgun used in today's attack and going through an old white conversion van the f.b.i. thinks hodgkinson may have been living in. they believe that he has been in the alexandria area since march. back in illinois, hodgkinson had been a volunteer for the bernie sanders campaign. today senator sanders said that he was sickened by the attack. >> violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and i can condemn this action in the
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strongest possible terms. >> reporter: so far, scott, investigators have found no connection to domestic and international terror groups. witnesses say hodgkinson had recently be hanging out at the ymca, which is near the baseball field. tonight police are asking the public to report any past sightings of the suspect as they try to build a full time line. >> pelley: jeff pegues, thanks. margaret brennan has the reaction at the white house. >> reporter: an often-polarizing president delivered a message of unity. >> everyone on that field is a public servant, our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of congress who represent our people. >> reporter: the attack is the most high-profile act of domestic political violence on his watch. mass shootings have become an unfortunate but repeated tragedy
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for recent american presidents. known for his often direct, off-the-cuff style, today the president chose his words carefully after speaking with the wife of wounded congressman steve scalise. his speechwriter edited the remarks until moments before the president delivered them with his daughter and son-in-law standing nearby. >> we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good. >> reporter: a white house official said the president was very aware of the delicate nature of what was unfolding this morning, and he worked on his remarks with vice president pence, someone who served in congress himself to craft a speech that showed reverence and respect for the victims. >> pelley: margaret brennan, thanks. a short time ago we spoke with two congressmen who survived the attack, chuck fleishmann of tennessee and mike bishop of michigan. they described how the two u.s. capitol police officers
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responded to the gunfire. >> it was chaos at that point, and i can't tell you that i know exactly what happened. the problem is that he's got a rifle and they've got handguns and it's not a fair fight at that point in time. it's too far away with that weapon to precisely hit a target. they knew they weren't going to probably hit him. they were just trying to give us cover. that's the heroics of these two that i can't... i have never seen that before. i have never personally witnessed that. >> pelley: they charged at the gunman? >> absolutely. >> and they were wounded in the line of duty, which is tremendous. mike is absolutely right. but for their actions, a lot more people would have been seriously injured. >> pelley: what did you see of congressman scalise after he was wounded? >> before i could get out, i looked at steve, who was on second base. he had made an effort to try to run off the field when the shooting started. i watched him go down. he was hit in the hip, and he went down immediately. and there was a moment when there was no gunfire, and you
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think... we thought that maybe he had stopped, so i began to get up to go and try and help steve. we wanted to do whatever we could to get the steve, and then bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. he was trained on us over by the exit because they were hitting the chain link fence. you could hear the ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping on the chain-link fence. it's something i'll never forget. >> pelley: it sounded like combat. >> we were totally defenseless, literally sitting ducks, but for the effects and the heroics of the capitol police, there would have been a lot more carnage. >> pelley: we have learned over the course of the day that it appears that the gunman was motivated by a hatred of the republican party. what do you think when you reflect on that? >> i think that's very sad. what's great about america, our first amendment, we have an ability to debate our views. when someone like the shooter takes it upon himself to engage in violence on anyone because of their political views like that, that's a very sad statement about where we are. >> pelley: congressman bishop?
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>> well, i hate to make this a political issue. i don't think it is. he's no more a democrat to me than he is a republican or the man on the moon, and i don't want people the take away from this that this is about republicans and democrats reaching a boiling point. i do believe there has been a reduction in civility in public discourse. i hope if anything comes from this that we maybe reset where we are. >> pelley: two survivors of today's attack. coming up next on the "cbs evening news" from washington, can this shooting be blamed on overheated political rhetoric?
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capital is here because, above all, they love our country. >> reporter: republicans and democrats both called for civility today. democrat nancy pelosi. >> we respect you and your constituents who sent you here. >> reporter: but partisan unity has been lacking for years. >> hillary clinton is a bigot. >> reporter: during the campaign, then-candidate trump used incendiary language to describe his democratic opponent, hillary clinton. >> such nasty woman. >> reporter: she in turn called trump supporters deplorable. >> the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic... >> reporter: the heated rhetoric has continued since president trump's inauguration. comedian kathy griffin posed for this photo posted on social media depicting a decapitated president trump, and a new york city production of "julius caesar" casted the assassinateed emperor as a trump look a-like.
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shortly after the shooting, republican chris collins pointed the finger at democrats. >> i can only hope that the democrats do tone down the rhetoric, that the rhetoric has been outrageous and the anger directed at donald trump. >> reporter: but later he said the fault lies with both sides. >> and i think all of cuss be a little introspective now. i will be, i can promise you, to just say, let's just notch it down, you know, a couple of decibels. >> reporter: as law enforcement tried to learn if there was distinct political motive behind the shooting, voices here and in congress said no political grievance could justify violence, and the harrowing aftermath of all of this, scott, republicans and democrats appear inclined to cool the rhetoric and ease the sense of division. >> pelley: major garrett, thanks. when we come back, many are missing in a high-rise fire.
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>> pelley: in london at least 12 are dead, 80 hurt in a high-rise catastrophe. jonathan vigliotti is there. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: the 24-story building quickly became an inferno, trapping people inside. some waved clothing frantically to get attention. >> what floor are you on? >> where you at? what? seven, yeah? >> reporter: 16-year-old ines and her family escaped from the 13th floor. >> you could see flashlights from the windows showing people were still at home, people screaming, banging on the windows. >> reporter: witnesses watched as desperate parents tried to save their children. >> people drop their kids. they are literally being thrown out of the balcony. people throwing themselves out just is they don't get burned. >> reporter: how high up was this? >> this was quite high up was this? >> past the eighth floor people were jumping and throwing their
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kids. if you can't save me, save my children. >> reporter: the fire started in an apartment fowrnts floor around 1:00 a.m. one resident described smelling gas. the building had just undergone a multimillion dollar renovation including new exterior cladding, but authorities suspect that new cladding may have worked like a chimney, spreading the fire quickly up the outside of the building. complaints against the building go back years, residents worried about fire hazards including blocked exits. one person i spoke with said the manage. company wasn't responsive. scott, it's still unclear if water sprinklers were even installed. >> pelley: jonathan vigliotti. we'll be right back.
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>> pelley: the congressional baseball game gives democrats
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and republicans a chance to show that they can play nice, at least once a year. >> there's a lot of, you know, good naturered trash talking and ribbing. you really do form friendships and working relationships with your colleagues. >> pelley: democrat linda sanchez has been playing for 15 years. mike doyle of pennsylvania is her manager. >> it's made it much easier for me to walk across the aisle and say, hey, you know, can we get this done? >> pelley: the game, first played in 1909, was the idea of republican congressman john tenor of pennsylvania, a former major league player. the democrats won. the cincinnati enquirer headline read, "republican poll team ground into dust by the unholy score of 26-16." unholy even though a priest was the umpire. for decades the game was a house affair. senators did not join until 1950.
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the first grand slam was hit by a congressman from grand rapids, michigan, future president gerald ford. in 1958, the games were called on account of pain. speaker sam rabern said too many members were getting hurt. >> his injuries were quickly amended. >> pelley: they returned in 1962 as a best-of-five series played for charity, the roll call trophy, and bragging rights. since all politics is local, players wear uniforms from home, state, college, and professional teams. over the years democrats have won 39 times, the republicans 39. one game ended in a tie. and no, the vice president can't break a tie. they'll play ball tomorrow. some cbs stations are leaving us now, but for most of you, the "cbs evening news" will continue from washington in a moment.
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[gunfire] >> shots being fired, and there are people running. victims involved. >> violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and i condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. >> we are strongest when we are unified and we work together for the common good. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america. >> this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley reporting tonight from washington. >> pelley: here's the latest on the attack today on republican members of the house and senate in alexandria, virginia. congressman steve scalise of louisiana, the third ranking republican in the house, is in critical condition tonight.

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