Condemning Virginia shooting, Netanyahu says Israel stands with US
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Condemning Virginia shooting, Netanyahu says Israel stands with US

PM sends well-wishes to victims of ‘tragic’ assault on Republican lawmakers that left five injured

Investigators search for evidence at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park where a shooting had happened June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)
Investigators search for evidence at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park where a shooting had happened June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday sent wishes for a fast recovery to the victims of the Virginia shooting attack, saying Israel stands with the US on this “difficult day.”

A rifle-wielding critic of US President Donald Trump opened fire Wednesday on US lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, seriously wounding a top Republican congressman and injuring four others before he was killed by police.

The 66-year-old gunman was identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, an ardent supporter of liberal Senator Bernie Sanders — who said he was “sickened” by what he called a “despicable act.”

“On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I send our heartfelt wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Congressman Steve Scalise and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting attack in Virginia,” Netanyahu said in a late-night statement.

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving final remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before Trump's departure, May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving final remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before Trump’s departure, May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We stand with the victims, their families and the American people on this difficult day,” the prime minister said.

Congressman Steve Scalise underwent surgery after being shot in the hip and remained in critical condition, according to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Four others were wounded: a congressional aide, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, and two US Capitol Police officers.

The FBI said it had recovered and was attempting to trace two weapons, a rifle and a handgun, and was actively investigating Hodgkinson’s “associates, whereabouts, social media impressions, and potential motivations.”

According to his Facebook page, Hodgkinson was a fervent supporter of Sanders, the feisty independent who battled Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

This photo from Facebook shows James T. Hodgkinson. A government official says Hodgkinson is the suspect in the Virginia shooting that injured Rep. Steve Scalise and several others. (Facebook via AP)
This photo from Facebook shows James T. Hodgkinson. A government official says Hodgkinson is the suspect in the Virginia shooting that injured Rep. Steve Scalise and several others. (Facebook via AP)

Hodgkinson’s social media posts displayed strong anti-Trump sentiment.

“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, Michael Hodgkinson, told The New York Times. But he said news of the shooting came “totally out of the blue.”

The shooting took place just after 7:00 am (1100 GMT) as the Republican team practiced for the well-loved charity showdown.

Congressman Rodney Davis told CNN he was at bat at the time, and Scalise was in the field at second base.

“I was batting, we heard a loud noise…. The next thing I remember was somebody on the field yelling ‘Run, he’s got a gun.'”

Alexandria police chief Michael Brown said his officers arrived within minutes and engaged Hodgkinson, together with Capitol Police officers. The gunman was taken into custody and later died of his injuries.

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2014 file photo, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., right, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, following a House GOP caucus meeting. (photo credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2014 file photo, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., right, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, following a House GOP caucus meeting. (photo credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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