This week marked the beginning of practice for the annual congressional charity baseball game, and for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, it called to mind the “real miracles” God performed to save his life and the lives of others during last summer’s baseball practice shooting.
On June 14, 2017, a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a ball field in Northern Virginia where GOP members of Congress and their staff were preparing for the match-up against their Democratic rivals, a tradition dating back to 1909.
The shooter hit four people, including Scalise, who received life-threatening injuries. The 7.62 mm round entered his left hip, shattering his femur, then traversing his pelvis causing severe damage to his internal organs.
The congressman attributes his survival to the power of God and the power of prayer.
“You can’t explain some of the things that happened on that ball field except that God performed real miracles,” Scalise told CBN News reporter Abigail Robertson.
Scalise said it had been a beautiful morning before everything quickly changed.
“We’re just out there playing baseball in the field, a bunch of guys, you know, feeling like kids again,” the 52-year-old recalled. “And then all of the sudden we heard a noise, and I thought it was the backfire of a tractor.”
Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., an Army Iraq War veteran, knew immediately the sound was gunfire and soon the gunman was staring him down, perhaps 15 feet away.
“I looked him dead in his face and he had the most evil, sinister look,” Kelly said.
The man opened fire on the representative at a close range, but he miraculously missed him multiple times, with one of the bullets ricocheting off the chain link fence separating the two.
While Kelly was spared, the shooter found his mark with Scalise, who was in the infield.
“I went down, I crawled away and then eventually my arms and legs just gave out,” Scalise explained. “I didn’t know how bad I was hit, but I could feel numb, and I could still hear a lot of gunshots going off.”
He then started to pray to God.
“I prayed and asked Him for very specific things and, you know, at that point, it almost was like this calm came over me because I just really felt like God was going to take care of me and boy did He ever,” continued Scalise.
The miracles for the congressman came in many forms. First, Capitol police officers David Bailey and Crystal Greiner, though outgunned and both wounded in the melee, managed to take out the shooter using their 9mm handguns.
Next, teammate Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a former combat surgeon, rushed onto the field when the gunfire stopped and applied a life-saving tourniquet.
“Brad came out and applied a tourniquet to where the bleeding was,” Scalise recounted. “My trauma surgeon later said if that tourniquet wasn’t applied I would have bled out on the field, I wouldn’t have made it.”
The ambulance soon arrived on scene and EMTs quickly tried to take Scalise to the hospital across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. However, they ran into rush hour traffic and feared the congressman would not survive the trip.
One of the EMTs happened to look up and noticed a medevac helicopter flying toward the baseball field. Though the EMTs had no communication with the chopper, they made the decision to turn around in the hope it was for Scalise. Their gamble paid off.
“Sure enough the helicopter landed and it was there to pick me up and four minutes later I’m in the emergency room at MedStar hospital,” says Scalise. “They said maybe one more minute and I wouldn’t have made it. The fact that that happened, I would have died in the ambulance there’s no doubt about it.”
When the lawmaker arrived, he had no measurable blood pressure.
Scalise underwent multiple surgeries and blood transfusions to save his life and remained unconscious for three days.
President Donald Trump was among those calling for prayers for Scalise after making a trip to the hospital the night of the shooting.
Just left hospital. Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape – but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
Scalise was still not out of the woods even after doctors stopped his internal bleeding and stabilized his condition overall. The Louisianan soon developed a life-threatening internal infection.
He eventually surmounted all the challenges and believes prayer made the difference.
“They weren’t sure whether I was going to make it those first few days, but finally I did and thank God for the miracles and for the prayers from all around the country,” he said. “Just the unbelievable overwhelming amount of prayers and support I got from people that I know and I don’t know, and I’m so thankful for that.”
“The prayers really did help give me strength,” Scalise stated.
The other three victims of the shooting all survived. Former Capitol Hill staffer Matt Mika, who suffered severe wounds to his chest and arm, was on hand for this week’s practice.
As with Scalise, “thanks to an improbable series of events,” including a bullet passing just millimeters from his heart, Mika lived through the horrible ordeal, The New York Times reported.
“This is really special.” – Matt Mika, who was shot twice last year at congressional baseball practice pic.twitter.com/wTbrEqfc3o
— Abigail Robertson (@AbigailCBN) April 25, 2018
Scalise continues to undergo physical therapy for his injuries and asked for prayers for his full healing.
“Please pray that my nerves that have been injured from the attack can come back and function, and a lot of them are, and I’m so blessed to be able to do the things I do now,” says Scalise.
This year’s congressional baseball game will take place at Nationals Park in Washington on June 14th, the anniversary of the shooting. Last year’s game raised a record of over $1.5 million for charity.
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