Virginia shooting: Gunman 'asked Congressmen if they were Republicans or Democrats'

The gunman who opened fire on a group of congressman playing baseball, reportedly asked the men if they were Republicans or Democrats before he opened fire.

Reports said that shortly he opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon - spraying as many as 50 or 60 bullets - the suspected shooter, approached one of those present and asked about their political affiliation.

“I’m told Rep Jeff Duncan plans to give a statement to police regarding a conversation he had with the shooter before leaving practice early,” CNN reporter Rebecca Berg wrote on Twitter.

“The man was wearing running clothes, asked Duncan: “Are those Republicans or Democrats out there practicing?” Per source familiar.

Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama told CNN that the gunman was armed with a rifle and appeared to be a white male, “a little bit on the chubby side”.

Mr Brooks said he saw the man only for a second, and that he was shooting from a chain link fence behind the third base position on the field where the congressional group was holding its morning practice.

He said he heard Steve Scalise, the Republican whip in the House and one of the more powerful Republicans in Washington DC, scream out, as he was shot, reportedly in the hip.

“There must have been 50 to 100 shots fired,” he said.

“I hear Steve Scalise over near second base scream. He was shot,” added Mr Brooks, adding he helped apply a tourniquet with his belt to a congressional staffer who was shot in the leg.

“One of our security detail was shooting back, but it was our pistol versus the shooter's rifle. The only weapon I had was a baseball bat. That's not a battle you want to go in."

Fox News anchor Bret Baier tweeted that Mr Scalise was shot in the hip and is expected to survive.

Reuters said that President Donald Trump said he and Vice President Mike Pence were aware of the shooting and are monitoring developments closely.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected,” Mr Trump said in a statement.