Congressman: Game Can Start with Moment of Silence, but There'd Better Be Prayer, Too
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WASHINGTON – More than 24 hours later, the adrenaline has run off, and congressmen are starting to reflect on the horrific events that unfolded at the Republican congressional baseball team practice Wednesday morning.
"Had God not raised up those two agents yesterday and put a hedge of protection around us we'd be talking about 15-20 deceased members of Congress this morning," Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., the pitcher for the team, told CBN news.
Walker says it is surreal to see the video, which was taken by a man walking his dog in a nearby park when the shooting began.
"Just to hear those repeated shots I'm sure for many guys that's troubling. We happen to have three or four veterans on our team and immediately it was putting them into combat mode, but without an ability to defend themselves yesterday," Walker said.
***Abigail Robertson sat down for an exclusive interview with Congressman Walker. Click play above to see more of what he said.***
Walker told CBN he witnessed "a lot of heroism yesterday," like that of former Army surgeon Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, crawling out on the field in the middle of gunfire to take care of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who is still in critical condition.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the team coach, had his 10-year-old son at the practice. When the shooting started, members of Congress jumped on top of Barton's son in the dugout to shield him from the bullets.
Walker's family is also in Washington for the game Thursday night. Many members have said much of the conversation in Washington since the shooting has centered around the increase in threats to House members and their families, and the need for Congress to come together and speak out against the harsh rhetoric.
"Many members, even with children as young as 20 months, have had their families threatened. It's really reached a feverish pitch over the last several months," said Walker. "I think it's important for leaders to speak out. You have to set the example."
"There are strong differences, as we talked about, yet we can discuss those and we can talk about those without bringing the rhetoric," he added.
Congressman Walker received pushback from people on the internet Wednesday when he said he believed the shooter had obviously targeted Republican members of Congress. But he stands by his comments, which some called "overly partisan."
"The gentleman very clearly had set this out and moved here and specifically talked about Republicans being part of the Taliban and we've got to destroy Donald Trump and company," said Walker.
Walker says in the days ahead, he's concerned with the people behind events like the controversial Shakespeare in the Park play, which depicts a brutal stabbing of a character that looks very similar to President Trump and those who participate in those events.
"We've seen this continue to expound with comedians who've done some things here or the play in the park that had the killing of the president. Those kinds of things only fuel those who are not able to separate sometimes the reality versus fiction," the Louisiana lawmaker warned.
But despite events like Wednesday's Alexandria shooting, Walker does not necessarily think there needs to be an increase in personal security for all lawmakers.
"Probably so in some circumstances, but this may be the pastor talking in me. I like being out amongst the people," Walker told CBN News. "I like being able to hear from people whether they agree or disagree. I want that opportunity to explain why I believe what I do, whether it's personal responsibility or limited government."
One easy, free way to increase protection: Keep reminding people to pray for all lawmakers.
"I believe yesterday that the miraculous component of the lives that were saved was due to the amount of people each and every day that are uplifting and praying for us, and we certainly ask for those prayers to continue," said Walker.
And as for Thursday night, both teams are still ready to play in the annual Congressional Baseball Game.
"We're excited about the game this evening. We believe that can bring a certain amount of healing," Walker explained. "Somebody said yesterday, 'Should we have a moment of silence?' and we said 'No. If we do that's fine, but let's make sure we have prayer as well.'"
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