After initially labeling it “suicide by cop,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has officially updated the designation of the 2017 congressional baseball practice shooting, which left GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA-01) critically wounded, to “domestic violent terrorism.”
The change comes after Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02) questioned FBI Director Chris Wray about the designation during a late April House Intelligence Committee hearing.
Wenstrup told Wray:
“Much to our shock that day, the FBI concluded that this was a case of the attacker seeking suicide by cop. Director, you want suicide by cop, you just pull a gun on a cop. It doesn’t take 136 rounds. It takes one bullet. Both the DHS and the [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] published products labeling this attack as a domestic violent extremism event, specifically targeting Republican members of Congress. The FBI did not.”
The revelation about the FBI’s designation raised questions about whether the federal law enforcement organization was attempting to downplay the shooter’s political motivations.
In late 2017, left-wing activist James Hodgkinson of Illinois, who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2016 presidential campaign and had a long history of anti-Republican vitriol, opened fire on a baseball field where Republican members of Congress were practicing. To be sure that he had the correct targets, he asked whether the players were Republicans or Democrats before the shooting.
Hodgkinson died in a shootout with Capitol Police.
Wenstrup, a U.S. Army Surgeon, was on the field that day. He said it “felt like I was back in Iraq” at the time of the attack.
“Our intelligence and law enforcement apparatuses require accuracy, precision, and justice,” Wenstrup said of the change in designation.
“I’m encouraged that the FBI has updated its classification of that nearly catastrophic event to reflect the actual motives of the assailant, and I commend Director Wray for his oversight of that correction. I will continue to work with the Bureau toward investigating what led to the original ‘suicide by cop’ determination,” he continued.
Despite the fact that the shooter was a known leftist, the FBI has never publicly released any conclusions about the motive for the attack.
But Brian Porter, an Alexandria, VA prosecutor, did reach such a conclusion.
“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,” Porter said, according to POLITICO.
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