LITTLE ROCK — An employee of Springdale-based Tyson Foods was among several people injured in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday in Alexandria, Va.
Matt Mika, director of government relations for Tyson’s Washington, D.C., office, was taken to a hospital after the shooting and was listed in critical condition after surgery, the company said in a statement.
“Matt has worked for Tyson Foods for more than six years and we’re deeply concerned about him and his family,” Tyson Foods said.
Also injured were House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, and Zack Barth, an aide to Texas Rep. Roger Williams, according to The Associated Press.
The shooter, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, was shot by Capitol Police officers and later died from his wounds.
The shooting occurred during practice for a congressional baseball game for charity.
“Although he wasn’t scheduled to play in the game, Matt is a former college baseball and football player and was helping coach the practice, as he has done in the past. Baseball is one of his great passions and he has always loved the congressional team,” Tyson Foods said in its statement.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support for Matt and please ask that you keep him, his family and everyone affected by this senseless act of violence in your thoughts and prayers,” the company said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who represented Arkansas’ 3rd District in Congress from 1997 to 2001, told reporters Wednesday at the state Capitol, “I have been in Congress and I know Steve. I know some of the players involved in that game. It’s a great American tradition. To have that disrupted by an attack is certainly disturbing, and our hearts go out to the families.”
The governor added, “We’ve learned that one of our Arkansas Tyson employees was also wounded in that event today. Our heart goes out to that family and we wish Matt well as he recovers from that.”
Earlier this year, the Arkansas Legislature and Hutchinson approved a law allowing people who receive a certain amount of training to obtain licenses to carry concealed handguns in many places they previously were banned, including the state Capitol and most government offices. Hutchinson was asked if he had any concerns about attacks like the one in Virginia possibly occurring in Arkansas.
“We continue to look at security here at the Capitol,” he said. “For any public official it is a concern. You’ve just got to not overreact. We want to wait and get the facts here.”
Hutchinson said that when he was in Congress, there was security at the Capitol and security for the House speaker.
“That’s changed. Now you have 24-hour security for the leadership. That’s why there was security for Majority Whip Scalise here in this case. But I am hopeful we’ll never get in our society to the point that we have to have security for all of the members of Congress or our elected officials. That’s not the relationship that we want.”
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said Wednesday on Twitter, “I’m horrified at the senseless act of violence at congressional baseball practice. Praying for @SteveScalise Capitol Police & other victims.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Scalise, staffers, Capitol Police officers, and all who were impacted by this morning’s shootings.”
In a tweet that also noted he was not at the practice and was OK, Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, said, “My prayers are with @SteveScalise and all of the others who were injured this morning.”
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said in a statement, “I am devastated to hear about the shooting that took place in Alexandra, Virginia. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Steve Scalise, the other victims and their families. I am thankful for the United States Capitol Police and their relentless effort to keep us safe.”
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, tweeted that he was praying for Scalise and the other people injured and said in a separate tweet, “Events like these are appalling. Thank you to @CapitolPolice and the detail who bravely took action this morning.”
Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said over two consecutive tweets, “I am praying for my friend Steve Scalise and the other victims of this senseless attack. We should all be extremely grateful for Capitol Police this morning and the other first responders on the scene for their heroic work.”