Replica edition News Sports Opinion Record Religion Community Special Sections Photos Contact Spring Player of Week Email Updates
story.lead_photo.caption MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER Congressman Steve Womack, shown speaking at a sendoff he hosted for appointees to military service academies in 2017, has appointed local athletes, Zeke Laird of Prairie Grove to West Point in 2017; and Javan Jowers, of Farmington to the Air Force Academy in 2018.

SPRINGDALE -- The death angel James T. Hodgkinson hoped to employ to decimate Republican members of Congress practicing baseball for an annual charity game against Democrats was now calling his number.

"Strike three, you're out."

Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., died following a shootout with capitol police after he opened fire at about 7:06 a.m. on June 14, 2017, on several Republican members of Congress and others practicing on a baseball field at Alexandria, Va.

This was an attack on baseball itself and baseball won.

Speaking about the incident after a sendoff he hosted for appointees to various military academies which included former Farmington cornerback Javan Jowers, and former Gravette wide receiver Daniel Huntsman, both of which will attend the Air Force Academy; Congressman Steve Womack (R-Rogers) said the attack serves as a reminder that people, who are predisposed to committing a terrorist act, will use high-profile events, including sporting events, concerts, and those type of venues where a lot of people are gathered in a joyous mood, to try and further their objective.

"People that are predisposed to committing those kinds of acts choose locations that go right to the heart of the soul of America and obviously sports is one of those common denominators that unites a lot of us," Womack said during an interview at the Har-Ber High School cafeteria in Springdale on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

To put that attack in baseball terms, five people on the baseball side were hit by a pitch, and while some were temporarily regulated to the physically unable to perform list, most importantly -- there were no outs. None of the people on the baseball side died.

Hodgkinson clearly came prepared for a complete game. Armed with a rifle and a 9mm handgun, he could have potentially taken out 27 people, the equivalent of 3-outs-per-9-innings or the duration of a standard baseball game.

In reality, he never got beyond the second inning. Five men were down, sustaining gunshot wounds inflicted by Hodgkinson, then he was taken out and the game was over.

New security protocols were implemented for members of Congress following the shooting.

"We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of that shooting, and I had really, really dear friends of mine that were impacted by it, not the least of whom was Steve Scalise," Womack said. "It has changed a lot of the protocols in Washington anymore when a number of members (of Congress) are together there's usually some kind of security detail close by or at least local authorities are alerted."

Even though Womack wasn't present at Simpson Field in Alexandria, Va., when the shooting happened, the intensity of recalling the event was apparent. He rubbed his chin and clutched his chest during the interview.

"Yeah, it bothers me, and it troubles me that we have to have all these security precautions up at all the ballparks and Razorback Stadium and those kinds of places," Womack said. "It's troublesome, but it's the world we live in."

Baseball prevailed when Democrats and Republicans played their annual Congressional baseball game for charity the day following the shooting, Thursday, June 15, 2017, with the Democrats winning, 11-2.

The game which previously sold between 8,000 and 9,000 tickets, played at Washington Nationals ballpark, drew a record crowd of 24,959 and raised more than $1 million for charitable contributions.

Sports on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Battle For Soul Of America

Sponsor Content