WASHINGTON (BP) — Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana described himself as “definitely a living example that miracles really do happen” in his first appearance in the U.S House of Representatives after suffering a life-threatening gunshot wound 15 weeks ago.
Scalise, the House’s majority whip and a leading conservative in the Republican Party, spoke today (Sept. 28) after walking into the packed chamber with the aid of crutches. He was shot June 14 at an Alexandria, Va., park as GOP members practiced for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity.
His ability to return to the House “starts with God,” Scalise said. “When I was laying out on that ball field, the first thing I did once I was down and I couldn’t move anymore was I just started to pray. And I tell you it gave me an unbelievable sense of calm, knowing at that point it was in God’s hands.
“But I prayed for very specific things,” he told his colleagues. “And I’ll tell you, pretty much every one of those prayers was answered, and there were some pretty challenging prayers I was putting in God’s hand. But He really did deliver for me and my family. And it just gives you that renewed faith and understanding that the power of prayer is something that you just cannot underestimate.”
On June 14, Scalise received a rifle shot to the left hip from James Hodgkinson, who was killed by subsequent gunfire from police. The bullet traversed “his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding,” according to a statement from the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he was transported in shock.
He was in critical condition and required at least four surgeries. Three weeks after the shooting, he had to return to the intensive care unit, but he was moved to the inpatient rehabilitation center July 26, the hospital reported.
The “outpouring of love, of warmth, of prayer” overwhelmed his wife Jennifer and him, giving them the strength to reach this day, Scalise told his fellow House members.
Scalise expressed gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police, especially David Bailey and Crystal Griner, who were assigned to his security detail that day. They returned fire with Hodgkinson and were injured in the process. They received credit for keeping the shooter from wounding or killing others.
He prayed while he was on the ground that Bailey and Griner would be successful in fulfilling their duties, Scalise told his fellow representatives. Griner was unable to attend Scalise’s speech, but Bailey sat in the House gallery.
Scalise looked at Bailey and said, “David, you are my hero. You saved my life. Thank you so much.”
In introducing Scalise after he received a standing ovation upon his entrance to the House chamber, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said, “Our prayers have been answered. His bravery and his family’s strength have been such an inspiration to this House and to the people it serves. America is grateful for this moment.”