To many of those from his native Louisiana, Steve Scalise is a well-known and popular politician. But to other people in the United States and around the world as well, at least those who might not be well versed with people holding political offices within the US, he was not really known.
That however changed when in June of 2017, Scalise was shot during a congressional baseball practice session. At the time of the shooting, Scalise served as the United States House of Representatives Majority Whip and a representative for Louisiana’s 1st congressional district. Let’s discuss who he is and details of that fateful day in June.
Who Is Steve Scalise?
Scalise was born on the 6th of October, 1965 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born one of three children to his parents, his father, Alfred Joseph Scalise, a real estate broker and his mother, Carol Schilleci.
His full name at birth was Steven Joseph Scalise and his siblings are Glenn and Tara Scalise. Steve Scalise attended Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie and after graduating from there, he enrolled at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. At LSU, Scalise went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Political science. It was while he was at Louisiana State that he got his start as a politician. Scalise was elected to be the speaker of the LSU’s Student Government Association twice.
He got into mainstream politics when he won the seat of Republican State Rep. Quentin D. Dastugue after the later had made an unsuccessful bid to become Governor of Louisiana. Scalise was representative of Dastugue’s District 82 seat and won reelection in 1999 and 2003, he remained there till 2007.
In October of 2007, Steve Scalise was elected to the District 9 seat in the Louisiana Senate which had been vacated by Ken Hollis of Metairie. His mandate came under a nonpartisan blanket primary and had 61 percent of the vote.
In 2007, when Bobby Jindal was elected to become governor of the state of Louisiana, Scalise stated his intentions to run for his vacated seat in the United States House of Representatives. Scalise first had to defeat fellow State Representative and Republican, Timothy G. Burns in the Republican primaries and then, the Democratic candidate, Gilda Reed in the general election polling 75.13% of the votes.
In 2012, the politician was elected the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. Steve Scalise launched a campaign in 2014 to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Majority Whip of the House, McCarthy himself had gone on to replace Rep. Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader. Scalise went on to win the race.
Why Was He Shot And By Who?
The United States polity has over the years been deepening in its divide along party lines. That partisan division just seems to be growing and widening if we put recent events into account. One of the ways put forward to help breach this gaping divide is the annual Congressional Baseball Game that is played in good spirits with politicians from both sides of the aisle.
On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, the Republican party members were having a practice session in preparation for the annual game on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia when a left-wing extremist, later identified as 66 years old, James Hodgkinson from Illinois opened fire on the players. Hodgkinson was revealed to have been a supporter of the Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders in the lead up to the 2016 general elections. He was angered by the election of President Donald Trump, anti-Trump rhetorics were found on his social media accounts.
Hodgkinson was said to have visited the field previously and on the morning of the shooting. It is said that he inquired which congressional team was having their practice. When he learned it was the Republicans, he opened fire. This happened at around 7:06 am, he fired from outside the third-base dugout of the field behind the fence surrounding the field.
Capitol Police Special Agents, David Bailey and Crystal Griner who were part of Scalise’s routine security returned fire. But unfortunately, Steve Scalise was at second base when the shooting began and was hit on the hip. He went down and had to crawl to the outfield, leaving a trail of blood.
Agent Griner was shot in the ankle while exchanging fire with Hodgkinson. Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods was shot as well. Zachary Barth, a legislative correspondent for Rep. Roger Williams was also hit, along with David Bailey of the Capitol Police.
Officers from the Alexandria police arrived three minutes after the first 911 call. Officer Alexander Jensen and David Bailey got off shots that hit the suspect.
Between 7:06 am and 7:15 am when he was put in cuffs, Hodgkinson is said to have fired at least 70 rounds from his weapons which include an SKS-style semi-automatic assault rifle and a 9mm handgun. Hodgkinson was pronounced dead at the hospital dying from his injuries.