WASHINGTON -- Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King reacted angrily to the shooting at a congressional Republican baseball practice Wednesday morning, tying the suspected gunman to violence “from the Left.”

“America has been divided, the center of America is disappearing, and the violence is appearing in the streets, and it’s coming from the left, the divisions within the country, people that can’t accept the results of the election that are determined to try to take this country down, take this organization down,” King told The Washington Post.

King stopped by the crime scene in suburban Alexandria, Virginia immediately after hearing of the incident to pray for the shooting victims, who included House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was wounded in the hip. Scalise, the No. 3 GOP leader in the House, underwent surgery and was expected to make a full recovery.

As he expressed outrage at his colleagues being attacked, King brought up protesters across the country who continue to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

“This city was filled up with demonstrations the day after the inauguration, where you couldn’t drive down the streets,” King said. “And we’ve had demonstrations every week since then, sometimes different topics.”

King's office declined The Journal's request for an official statement from the congressman on the shooting.

Police identified the gunman as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, but did not not immediately release any motive for the shooting or tied it to any political beliefs.

A Facebook page from a person with the same name included posts against Trump and GOP lawmakers and photos of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the former Democratic presidential candidate. Hodgkinson campaigned in the Quad-Cities for Sen. Bernie Sanders before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, the Quad-City Times reported Wednesday.

A liberal advocacy group in Iowa denounced King for making "outrageous" comments tied to the shooting.

"Violence of any kind is unacceptable, as is language that perpetuates a violent culture," Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic said in a statement Wednesday. "It is unconscionable for Steve King to blame today's tragedy on citizens exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully voice their disagreement with their government."

No members of Siouxland's congressional delegation were at the baseball practice in suburban Alexandria, Virginia, where Republican House and Senate members were preparing for a charity game against their Democratic colleagues on Thursday.

Several tri-state lawmakers issued statements or took to Twitter after the incident, offering prayers for those who were wounded and gratitude to Capitol Police who were on the scene.

"We’re praying for all who were there and those who are injured. And I want to thank the two Capitol Police officers who were wounded and the others who were there to stop the situation from being even worse than it was," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said at the outset of a Judiciary Committee hearing.

Iowa Reps. Rod Blum and David Young and Sen. Joni Ernst offered prayers on Twitter.

"Prayers for recovery of those injured today and for sanity in this fractured world," Young noted.

"I'm shocked, I'm grieved, I'm numb about the shooting of my friend Steve Scalise," Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said in a Tweet.

In a Tweet, Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said he was "shaken" by news of the shooting and he was praying for Scalise and two Capitol Police officers, who were reportedly wounded as they exchanged fire with the gunman.

South Dakota's three-person congressional delegation -- Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem also offered prayers for the victims and praise for the quick response from Capitol Police.

"Praying for my friend Steve Scalise, his family & all injured by shooter in Virginia today. Grateful for the fast work of 1st responders," Noem said.

The Quad-City Times and Lincoln Journal Star contributed to this report.


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