Members of the protective detail for Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., are being hailed as heroes Wednesday, shining a spotlight on the little-known police force that guards the Capitol and prominent members of Congress.
If not for the presence of the U.S. Capitol Police officers, authorities say, the toll could have been much worse when a heavily armed gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice just outside Washington early Wednesday.
“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told MSNBC.
Although the practice was taking place in Alexandria, Va., across the Potomac River from the Capitol, police were on hand to protect Rep. Scalise, the majority whip and No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives.
“I’m sure it made a significant difference,” said Tim Slater, the FBI agent overseeing the investigation.
Authorities say two members of the Capitol Police force, Special Agent Crystal Griner and Special Agent David Bailey, returned fire with the gunman before local police arrived shortly after 7 a.m.
“Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” said President Trump. “Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.”