The shooting during a congressional baseball practice early Wednesday morning that critically injured Rep. Steve Scalise could have been much worse had two special agents not put their lives on the line, according to the lawmakers who survived.
Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner were hailed as heroes after leaping into action after a gunman opened fire from behind the third base dugout, striking Scalise and four others.
The two agents engaged shooter James T. Hodgkinson in a firefight, sustaining injuries themselves. Hodgkinson later died in a hospital.
"Our Capitol Police are the heroes. Had they not responded as they did, I don't think anyone would have made it through," Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, told "Fox & Friends" on Thursday morning. "All we had was balls and bats to fight this guy."
Williams was at the baseball field at the time of the attack. His aide Zack Barth was shot in the ankle.
"We are so grateful once we saw Capitol Police return their fire and eventually stop [the shooter]," he added. "It was an unbelieveable moment."
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Bailey and Griner are special agents with the Capitol Police on Scalise’s security detail. Most Congress members don’t have their own security details, however, high-ranking officials like the Louisiana representative, as the House Majority Whip, are assigned security teams.
Both special agents were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and are in good condition.
"Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault," said President Trump. "Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible."
Capitol Police began with a single watchman named John Golding when Congress first moved to Washington from Philadelphia in 1800, according to the historic account of the force's website. It was expanded and formalized in 1828 after a series of incidents, including an assault on President John Quincy Adam’s son in the Capitol Rotunda.
Today, the security service employs more than 1,700 officers who patrol the Capitol grounds and provide protective services to high-ranking lawmakers and their families.
In it's history, the police force has lost four members in the line of duty. One was shot accidentally by a fellow officer. Another suffered a heart attack after returning to his office from a crime scene. And two were shot to death in 1998 by a mentally unstable man.
Before working in Scalise’s security detail, both Bailey, a nine-year veteran of the Capitol Police, and Griner, a 2006 graduate of Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, served on the security detail for former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who said he was not surprised by their acts of heroism on Wednesday.
“[Griner is] an incredibly able and professional individual who always takes her job and responsibility seriously,” Cantor told The Daily Beast. “It is not surprising to hear of her heroism and bravery during this horrible attack.”
Of Bailey he said: “The bravery David showed reflects the kind of commitment he, Crystal and the team demonstrated each and every day… David is a trained professional who was and remains ready to act whatever the threat.”