Every generation experiences a miracle, but this generation may not fully comprehend or even recognize theirs.
The term "gunned down" as typically associated with baseball refers to an outfielder throwing out a base runner, but the stark reality of an attack that occurred one year ago on June 14, 2017, changed everything.
Congressional Baseball Shooting
At about 7:06 a.m. on June 14, 2017, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., walked up to a chain-link fence that providentially had a gate padlocked. He approached from the third-base side with a good view of several Republican members of Congress and others practicing on a baseball field at Alexandria, Va., in preparation for the annual Congressional baseball game between Republicans and Democrats fundraiser for charity.
Hodgkinson opened fire with a rifle and wounded five people including Representative Steven Scalise (R-La.), House Majority Whip, who was playing the field near second base and Tyson lobbyist Matthew Mika, who was stationed near first base. When the shooting began several members of Congress and coaches were near home plate all in plain sight of the shooter.
Rep. Scalise was struck in the hip by a bullet and went down near second base. Mika was shot in the chest and also went down during the surprise attack.
Terrorist Act Defined
On Oct. 6, 2017, Bryan L. Porter, Commonwealth's Attorney, City of Alexandria, Va., released a Use of Force Investigation and Analysis report to the public regarding the incident.
According to the report, "the evidence in this case establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect, fueled by rage against Republican legislators, decided to commit an act of terrorism as that term is defined by the Code of Virginia."
The report states the suspect, using a lawfully-purchased assault rifle and handgun, ambushed a peaceful assembly of people practicing baseball and began to fire indiscriminately in an effort to kill and maim as many people as possible.
Diabolical Game Plan
For all of his planning and practice, Hodgkinson failed miserably.
The report documents a citizen told police that on June 10, 2017, he observed Hodgkinson exit his van and walk around Simpson Field. There was no baseball practice occurring at the time. The citizen found the suspect's behavior odd, and after hearing of the shooting, believed the suspect had been "casing" the field. According to the report, at least one member of the Republican baseball team remembered seeing Hodgkinson sitting in the Simpson Field stands and watching the team practice on the morning before the shooting, June 13, 2017.
Media files recovered from Hodgkinson's phone show video of Simpson Field that was recorded in April, 2017. After the incident, several witnesses reported seeing him walking around Simpson Field in May. Porter writes in the report, "From these facts, it may be inferred that the suspect had already selected Simpson Field as a potential target as early as April, 2017."
Hodgkinson had also previously come to the attention of police in his home state of Illinois for target practice shooting but had not violated the law at that point.
All For Naught
All of his tactical training went for naught. According to the Report, Hodgkinson fired a total of at least 70 rounds, including 62 fired through the rifle and eight rounds fired through a 9mm handgun. At least one witness saw the barrel of the rifle extend through the chain-link fence.
Zachary W. Barth, a legislative correspondent for Representative Roger Williams (R-Tex.), fled center field when the shooting began. Barth ran to the warning track in right-field side but found no exit and was hit in his left lower leg while laying prone on the ground.
None of Hodgkinson's intended victims, including a list of six Republican members of Congress found in his pocket, died.
The Report establishes Hodgkinson's competency with a firearm. Special Agent Crystal Griner, who along with Special Agent David Bailey of the United States Capitol Police were assigned to protect Scalise, was wounded while exchanging gunfire with Hodgkinson. According to the Report, Griner took a direct hit in her left ankle while standing with her left leg extended past the rear of a vehicle.
Several players suffered scrapes, sprains and other minor injuries trying to take cover, but nobody except Hodgkinson died. He was eventually killed by police.
How could Hodgkinson miss so frequently? How could that number of bullets be fired in rapid succession without killing anyone?
Hard Not To Miss
During a June 20, 2017, interview with David Barton on "Wallbuilder's Live" Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) revealed he was standing at home plate preparing to bat wearing a bright yellow Kennesaw State University baseball jersey when the shooting began.
Loudermilk was a target as he fled the baseball diamond.
"As I go out the gate I hear a clink and apparently a bullet hit the fence," Loudermilk told Barton. "What is the distance from third base to first base? That's not a very hard throw of a baseball. Add another 10 feet to that standing outside the fence at third base, that's not a hard shot to take."
The total distance measures less than 50 yards. Later, after the shooter repositioned himself he was within 40 yards. Loudermilk said he could actually hear bullets going past before he got to a wooden shed just outside the gate.
To find anything even remotely comparable in American history, one has to go back 262 years to the Battle of Monongahela in 1755 when a young Lt. Col. George Washington was part of a combined force of British troops and colonial militia overwhelmed by French and Indians fighting from the cover of the forest.
British commander Major General Braddock was killed during the battle and Washington was the only officer left on horseback. He organized a retreat.
Washington wrote from Fort Cumberland to his younger brother, John Augustine Washington, July 18, 1755: "All the rumors you've heard about my death are wrong. I am alive. I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence that protected me beyond all human probability or expectation. I had four bullet holes in my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt."
Fifteen years later Washington visited the battlefield where he was met by a group of Indians. An aged chief, who once ordered his braves to shoot Washington and all officers during the battle, heard he was coming and traveled a great distance to offer greetings.
"I am a chief, and the ruler over many tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path, that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day, when the white man's blood, mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first beheld this chief."
The chief called to his young warriors instructing them, "Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe- he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do- himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies."
The chief recalled their rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for Washington, knew not how to miss.
"Twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded him from harm," the chief said. "He cannot die in battle."
At their meeting in 1770, the chief stated, "I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council-fire of my fathers, in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something, bids me speak, in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies- he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn, will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire!"
History has repeated itself and many Americans don't seem to realize this fact in spite of overwhelming evidence pointing toward miraculous divine intervention that spared multiple lives on the baseball diamond a year ago on June 14, 2017.Sports on 06/13/2018
Print Headline: Miracle On Baseball Diamond One Year Ago