HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Congressman Mo Brooks (R-5th) was taking warm up swings, when a gunman opened fire from behind the fence on the third base side of the field.
“If the shooter were to turn about 20-30 degrees to his right,” Brooks recalls, “I’d be his closest target with nothing but a baseball bat in my hands.”
“Not a very fair fight.”
He says they had a batting cage set up surrounding home plate. Brooks ran around it and dropped to the ground.
Brooks says he realized if the gunman were to follow him, he’d be exposed. So he, and several other members of Congress, made a run for it.
“We all got up and sprinted as fast as we could into the first base dugout,” he remembers.
Brooks says Congressional Staffer Zack Barth tumbled into the dugout, a dime-sized hole in his leg dripping blood. Brooks says Barth insisted he was OK.
Brooks told him otherwise.
“Dude, you’ve been shot. You’re not OK.”
Brooks says he and others made a tourniquet right there in the dugout. They heard more gunfire, closer this time.
When he looked up, he tells us, “The gun barrel was discharging about five feet from me.”
It was a Capitol Police officer.
“And then I hear someone yell,” recalls Brooks, “‘Shooter down. Shooter down.'”
The members of Congress and Capitol Police officers rushed to help Representative Steve Scalise, who was shot in the hip, “Three or four of us ultimately made it to where Steve Scalise had drug himself into the right field grass from a second base position, and you could see a long trail of blood as he was dragging himself, using his arms because his legs were immobile.”
The group stanched the bleeding. They spoke with investigators. They praised the thin blue line between what they saw and another world, much worse.
“But for the brave action of the Capitol Police,” Brooks says, “who while injured, took the shooter down, it would have been a massacre.”
Looking back, Brooks says he can think of three moments of chance that could have left him directly in the shooter’s path, “I might be either in the hospital with Steve Scalise.
“Or in a morgue.”
Brooks also emphasizes that the incident reinforced to him the heroism of law enforcement. He hopes in the next “unfortunate situation” with an officer, they will get the benefit of the doubt.
He also reinforces his support for the Second Amendment, even after facing the brutal consequences of gun violence.
“Every right that is bestowed in the Bill of Rights has a downside to it,” Brooks argues.
“Freedom of speech results in a lot of hurt feelings and anger caused by bad words that are used. With the Second Amendment, there are people that misuse guns, but the Second Amendment is the most important amendment that protects all other amendments in our republic.”
Even now, the congressman says, “So while there is a horrific downside when those shooters use guns, it’s even worse when you disarm the American citizenry.”
The congressman focuses on the immovable — principles.
For example, the charity baseball game the Republicans were practicing for when the assault started?
Brooks says, “We’re not going to let this stop us”
The game, an annual exercise in bipartisanship, will take place on Thursday.