Rep. Roger Williams speaks about injured staffer, UT grad Zack Barth

"Everybody yelled 'he's got a gun, run for cover,'" said Rep. Roger Williams from Central Texas.

A terrifying morning in Alexandria.
               
Republicans practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game, a popular bi-partisan tradition -- ambushed by a gunman.  Congressman Williams was there.

"Ran to the first base dugout which is in the ground about 7 feet and I literally dove into that dugout.  Be like diving I guess into a swimming pool with no water," Williams said.

Williams injured his ankle.  But his staffer, Zack Barth was hit by gunfire.

"When I got into the dugout, it wasn't 10 seconds, then Zack had come running in from the outfield.  We landed in each other's arms.  He held me.  I held him. Jeff Flake took his belt off and made a tourniquet around Zack's leg to stop the bleeding," Williams said.

University of Texas government professor Sean Theriault says Barth was a student of his in 2014 and went on to do research with him.

We spoke with Theriault via Skype today from Berlin.  The professor has actually been co-authoring a paper about the social aspects of Congress that involves the Congressional Baseball Game. 

"Initially I was exchanging e-mails with my co-author about what a tragedy this was and how ironic this was that we were working on it and then I checked in on Facebook and I saw that Zack had written a message on his wall that said that he had been shot and that he was in the hospital and he was doing okay," Theriault said.  "He was a great student!  Very smart, he was interested and engaged, he did the readings, he was a great test-taker, he wrote a good paper."

We also spoke with Congressman Bill Flores by phone.  He attends the game as a spectator every year. 

"It's good light-hearted competition between the Democrats and Republicans and we raise a lot of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities," Flores said.

The Congressman says what happened is the unfortunate outgrowth of the resistance movement to President Trump.

"These folks that get radicalized by this movement are trying to take out their frustration on people that are trying to work hard for the benefit of the country and it’s really disturbing to me that our political system has gotten this polarized with the potential for violence," Flores said.

I asked Flores if what happened makes him uneasy.

"My team and I have taken aggressive measures to deal with the increased risk of being a public servant today," he said.

Congressman Williams says none of the players were armed, they only had bats.  He was emotional as he thanked Capitol Police for saving all of their lives. 

"There could have easily been 25 deaths or more today.  I think, we had 25 team players and about 15 staff.  But officers Griner and Bailey prevented that and my family and I will be forever grateful.  The thin blue line held today," Williams said.

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