Rep. Jackie Speier, shot 5 times in 1978, offers support to Scalise

Jackie Speier shooting Scalise wolf_00000000
Jackie Speier shooting Scalise wolf_00000000

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  • Rep. Jackie Speier reflected on her own trauma and offered support to Rep. Steve Scalise
  • The California Democrat shot five times on an airstrip in Guyana in 1978

Washington (CNN)Rep. Jackie Speier, who was shot five times in 1978, reflected on her own trauma and offered her thoughts and prayers to the hospitalized Rep. Steve Scalise in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Thursday.

"Having personally suffered from gunshot wounds myself, it's a very difficult experience," the California Democrat said, wiping away a tear. "We all need to be there for Steve and his family."
Then a congressional staffer, Speier was shot on an airstrip in Guyana while accompanying California Rep. Leo Ryan to investigate the nearby Jonestown cult. Ryan and three journalists were killed on the airstrip.
    "I was shot five times, and I was on that airstrip for 22 hours without medical attention. I had those moments to think about the value of life -- whether or not it was going to continue -- and what I would do with it," Speier said.
    Jackie Speier, an aide to Congressman Leo Ryan, being taken from a plane at Georgetown on November 19, 1978, after its arrival from Jonestown where Speier was shot five times and Ryan and four others were ambushed and killed by members of the People's Temple.
    Shot in the hip while practicing with the GOP congressional baseball team Wednesday morning, Scalise is now the ninth sitting member of Congress to be shot. In 1978, Ryan was the first Congressman to be shot in the line of duty.
    "He was shot 45 times trying to save American constituents in his district from Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple," said Speier, who now holds Ryan's seat.
    Speier spoke about her own long recovery process, noting that Scalise will need support on the long road ahead.
    Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at a congressional event in Tucson in 2011, also offered her support to Scalise and his family in a tweet Wednesday.
    Both representatives have called for an end to partisanship during this trying period.
    "It's a time for this Congress to heal itself," Speier said.