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Brady returns home after harrowing week in DC; roommate Scalise's health on his mind

Conroe Courier

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Conroe, June 17, 2017 | comments
By John S. Marshall, jmarshall@hcnonline.com

Congressman Kevin Brady is back home in The Woodlands this weekend after an especially harrowing and emotionally difficult week in Washington, D.C.

Brady, R-The Woodlands, was practicing with other Republicans on a baseball diamond in suburban Alexandria, Virg., Wednesday morning ahead of a congressional baseball game, but decided to leave the field after batting practice. In walking off the baseball field when he did, Brady was out of harm's way -- but by just minutes -- when a man with a rifle opened fire on his fellow congressional ballplayers.

"I was blessed in that incident here this week," Brady told The Courier by phone. "Anyone who had left or survived is so grateful to God that we were spared."

But still on the practice field and hit by gunfire as he fielded ground balls was Brady's Washington roommate and close friend, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana. Scalise is hospitalized in critical condition after undergoing multiple surgeries for internal injuries and a broken bone in a leg.

In the hours after the shooting, with Scalise's life in grave jeopardy, Brady says he was with him "all day and most of the evening."

The hospital where Scalise is being cared for said Friday that he remains in critical condition, but had improved in the last 24 hours.

"He had a good day yesterday," Brady said. "I think the hospital put it best when they stated he came to the hospital in a severe state. He's going to require surgeries for quite some time."

Scalise was among five people wounded when the gunman, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkison, opened fire. Capitol police assigned to provide security to Scalise -- the No. 3 House Republican -- returned fire in what was described as a gun battle. Hodgkison was shot by police and later died of wounds.

Also hurt but having since been released from hospitals were two Capitol police officers, who are being hailed as heroes, and House GOP aide Zack Barth, a Houston man who works as a legislative correspondent for Austin Congressman Roger Williams. The fifth person shot was lobbyist Matt Mika, who was critically injured and remains hospitalized.

Brady said dozens of lives were saved by what he's describing as "quick action" of the officers, as well as some simple lucky breaks, including fewer people being on the field than expected when the gunman started shooting.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the shooting, a record crowd of 25,000 people turned out for Thursday night's charity baseball game -- a contest between Republicans and Democrats that usually draws about 10,000.

Brady, who was quite a ballplayer in high school and college, playing for championship teams, wore a red No. 5 Jeff Bagwell shirt for the game. Bagwell, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year, played for the Houston Astros for 15 years

"I was really proud to wear the jersey of Jeff Bagwell," Brady said. "I was thrilled to wear his uniform."

As for the game, the Democrats trounced the Republicans 11-2, and took the lead in the series, which dates back to 1909, 40-39. Thanks to the increased focus on the game and the jump in attendance, $1.5 million was raised for charity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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