Capitol Police officer injured in congressional baseball practice shooting lives in Baltimore County (Baltimore Sun)
When a gunman opened fire on congressional Republicans at a baseball practice, a Capitol Police officer from Baltimore County was among three officers who stepped up to engage him.
Special Agent Crystal Griner — a Gwynn Oak resident who graduated from a Howard County high school and played college basketball at Hood College — and Special Agent David Bailey were injured while taking on the gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, who was fatally shot Wednesday within minutes of opening fire at a ball field in Alexandria, Va. A third officer, Henry Cabrera, was not injured.
Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was gravely wounded in the shooting and remained in critical condition in a hospital Thursday. Griner, 32, who was on Scalise's security detail, was shot in the ankle. Two other men were also wounded.
The officers who intervened are being widely hailed as heroes. One congressman said that without their actions the incident would have been a massacre.
Kim Dine, former chief of the Capitol Police, was once Griner's boss. He said she followed her training and that he was deeply proud of her.
"The word hero is thrown around a lot, especially in public safety, but clearly she exemplified what a true hero is all about," he said.
"Crystal is one of the two Capitol Police officers who saved so many lives through her heroism, along with Special Agent David Bailey. They ran right into the fire," Trump said. "They ran right into those guns and the bullets, and they saved a lot of lives. America salutes both of their courage. They have great, great courage."
The FBI and other agencies continued to investigate the attack Thursday. They were examining Hodgkinson's activities and social media postings in the months leading up to the attack, the FBI said in a statement. Authorities have determined that Hodgkinson, 66, was from southern Illinois but recently had been living out of a van in Alexandria.
He expressed grievances online about Trump and other Republicans, but authorities said they're still working to determine a motive.
Hodgkinson was spotted regularly over the past several weeks at the YMCA next to the site of the shooting, sitting with a computer in the lobby or at a table in an exercise area that looked out onto the baseball field.
The congressmen were practicing early Wednesday for an annual Republicans vs. Democrats baseball game. Scalise was fielding balls at second base when he was shot in the hip, and sustained grievous injuries as the bullet traveled through his pelvis and injured internal organs.
Authorities say Hodgkinson was carrying a handgun and a rifle, and there was no evidence he had obtained them illegally.
The baseball game was held Thursday evening at Nationals Park in Washington. The congressmen planned to wear some Louisiana State University gear in honor of Scalise, a graduate of the school.
"Tonight we will go to the game, play our hardest, but we will all be Team Scalise," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters beforehand.
Players observed a moment of silence for the victims before the game. Bailey threw out the first pitch.
Dine said that once shooting begins, officers must snap into action quickly. That's what the Capitol Police did.
"They were simply outstanding," Dine said.
Dine, who left the agency in 2016, recalled Griner as hardworking.
"What I clearly recall is an incredible amount of focus and professionalism and dedication every time I saw her regardless of what the assignment was or what she was doing," he said.
That matched her attitude on the basketball court, according to her coach at Mount Hebron High School.
"She was intense, very tenacious," Scott Robinson said. "She was a really good rebounder."
Robinson said Griner's mother battled cancer throughout her high school years and died before her senior year. But Griner remained dedicated and led the team to a Howard County championship.
"She still came each day and worked hard and had a positive attitude," Robinson said. "She was a really positive force for the team."
"Her heroic actions yesterday don't surprise me in the least," he said.
Griner is from Ellicott City and also played softball during her high school years, including on an all-Howard County team. She finished high school in 2002 and went on to Hood College in Frederick. She majored in biology there, graduating in 2006.
Andrea Chapdelaine, the college's president, said, "those who knew her describe her as highly engaged and personable, a high achiever both in the classroom and on the court."
Griner has been released from the hospital. She and her wife bought a home in Gwynn Oak last spring. On Thursday a bouquet of white flowers addressed to Griner was on the front porch.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.