"It's been much more difficult than people even thought at that time," Trump said
Another victim, lobbyist Matt Mika, is in critical condition as of Thursday morning
President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that Rep. Steve Scalise is in worse condition than many initially realized the day after he was shot at a congressional baseball practice.
Speaking from the White House, Trump called the Louisiana congressman a “greater fighter” but indicated the situation remains very serious. Scalise, along with another victim, remains in critical condition.
“It’s been much more difficult than people even thought at that time,” Trump said of Scalise. “He’s in some trouble.”
The Republican lawmaker was treated at a Washington hospital Wednesday after a single rifle shot struck his hip during a shooting attack at a GOP congressional baseball practice in suburban Virginia. His doctors indicated Scalise suffered internal wounds and fractured bones, and was due for additional surgery.
Trump, who visited Scalise at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Wednesday evening, expressed optimism that Scalise would eventually recover.
“He’s going to be OK, we hope,” Trump said.
In remarks at the White House focused on a new apprenticeship program, Trump said that the shooting could bring unity to a divided nation.
“Steve, in his own way, may have brought some unity to our long-divided country,” Trump said in the Roosevelt Room. “We’ve had a very, very divided country for many years, and I have a feeling that Steve has made a great sacrifice, but there could be some unity being brought to our country.”
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking in Miami Thursday afternoon, offered prayers for Scalise and praised Capitol Police who engaged the suspect. He said the best of America would shine at the congressional baseball game on Thursday night.
“While there were always be those who seek to divide,” Pence said, “tonight on a baseball field in our nation’s capital, the world will see America is better than that.”
Investigators said Thursday that weapons recovered at the Alexandria scene were purchased legally and that they are examining electronics recovered from the suspect’s vehicle, including his cell phone, computer and camera. The shooter had a 9 mm handgun and a 7.62 caliber rifle, authorities said, which were purchased from “federal firearms licensees.”
The electronics were found in the shooter’s white van, which was parked in a YMCA lot next to the Alexandria baseball field.
Lobbyist in critical condition
Another victim, lobbyist Matt Mika, is in critical condition as of Thursday morning, according to a statement from his family. Mika was “shot multiple times in his chest and arm and suffered massive trauma” and now “requires assistance to breathe and will need additional surgeries.”
The statement said Mika has “been alert, conscious and communicating through notes.”
“We are grateful for the care he has received, from the first responders in the field to the world-class care here at the hospital,” the family said in a statement. “We understand he is lucky to be alive and we owe it to these amazing individuals and Matt’s fighting spirit and grit. Additionally, we want to thank the Capitol Police for their heroic actions to stop the shooter before he could hurt even more people.”
Congressional aide Zack Barth, who was shot in the leg, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday morning that he was doing well despite the wound.
“It was a scary situation. Probably the scariest thing I’ve lived through but, you know, thank the Lord for all the prayers and thoughts I’ve received,” he said on “New Day.”
Barth, a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams, described the palpable fear he experienced Wednesday while under fire. Upon hearing gunshots, he quickly moved from center to right field where he realized there was little place to hide.
“I made myself the smallest target possible, laid on the ground, and then I saw him turn his gun towards me,” Barth recounted. “He started firing. Everything around me started to pop. I felt a sharp burning pain in my leg, looked down – I had been hit.”
Barth says he then sprinted toward the dugout where others had already gone to hide. “I literally ran for my life and jumped in the dugout into Congressman Williams’ arms,” he said.
“We held each other,” said Williams. “Mo Brooks took his belt off. He gave it to Sen. (Jeff) Flake and I to help Zack stop the bleeding on his leg.” From there, the two hid inside the dugout with Brooks and Flake until the shooter was no longer active.
The team was practicing for the annual baseball game that takes place in Washington on Thursday evening. Williams will be coaching third-base at the game, and Brath will be in attendance.
“We will punch back tonight,” Williams declared.
CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.