Baseball shooting

Members of a Democrat congressional baseball team pray in a dugout after hearing about the shooting of Republican colleagues in Washington, DC, PICTURE: Ruben Kihuen via Twitter

Political and religious leaders offered prayers for Congressman Steve Scalise and four others who were injured in a shooting during a Republican Party congressional baseball practice.

Democrats, who were practicing at the same time a few miles away, stopped as soon as they heard about the attack Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, and huddled in a dugout to pray for their colleagues.

Congressman Ruben Kihuen tweeted a photo of his party’s team members. “@HouseDemocrats praying for our @HouseGOP@SenateGOP baseball colleagues after hearing about the horrific shooting,” he wrote.

The teams were practicing for an annual charity baseball game pitting Republicans against Democrats. The game is still scheduled to go ahead on Thursday.

The shooter, identified as James T Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, fired between 50 and 100 shots at the GOP team’s practice. He was later fatally wounded in a gunfight with Capitol Hill police.

Mr Scalise, 51, is the majority whip - or the number three-ranked Republican in the House of Representatives, after the speaker and majority leader - and a lifelong Catholic from Louisiana.

Various Catholic figures expressed their support after the shooting. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which started its spring general meeting on Wednesday, began with a prayer for the victims of the baseball shooting, as well as the recent violence in London.

According to the Catholic News Agency, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond  and Bishop Michael F Burbidge, head of the diocese of Arlington, Virginia, issued statements expressing sadness and offering prayers for the victims.

In March 2016, Mr Scalise spoke to the National Catholic Reporter about how "as a Catholic and the great grandson of Italian immigrants" he still celebrated the traditional Feast of St Joseph and never left home without the legume that symbolises the holiday.

“Still to this day, I always carry around a fava bean with me everywhere I go to remind me of my faith and Italian heritage,” he said.