A man armed with a baseball bat and demanding to see Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, attacked and injured two staff aides in a destructive rampage inside the congressman’s Fairfax, Va., office, The latest episode in an escalation of political violence. across the country.
Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, of Fairfax, was charged with one count of felony aggravated assault and one count of malicious wounding, according to the Fairfax City Police Department. He was being held without bond.
Police said they have not yet identified a motive, and Capitol Police said in a statement that the suspect was not known to them.
Sgt. Lisa Gardner, a spokeswoman for Fairfax City Police, said at a news conference Monday afternoon that the assailant came into Mr. Connolly’s office at about 10:30 p.m. with what appeared to be a metal baseball bat and struck two staff members in the upper back. Body.
He said both employees were conscious when police arrived about five minutes after the 911 call. Mr Connolly said in a statement that the man had committed an “act of violence” and that both colleagues were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“You could absolutely tell the people inside were scared; They were hiding,” said Sergeant Gardner.
“It’s quite frankly scary that someone can walk up to an office with a baseball bat and start swinging at innocent victims,” she said.
Mr. Connolly represents a group of northern Virginia suburbs west of Washington, DC. He was first elected to the Congress in 2008. in a statement After the attack, he said he had “the best team in Congress.”
“My district office staff make themselves available to the public and members of the public every day,” Mr Connolly said in the statement. “The idea that someone would take advantage of my employees’ access to violence is unconscionable and devastating.”
Mr Connolly told CNN the assailant hit a senior colleague over the head with a metal bat, and hit an intern – on her first day at work – in the side with the bat.
While members of Congress are protected by the United States Capitol Police on Capitol Hill, their district offices generally do not receive such protection unless there is a specific known threat to the member.
In Monday’s attack, the attacker caused significant damage to Mr Connolly’s office, breaking glass in the conference room and smashing computers.
Last year, Mr. Pham filed a federal lawsuit in Virginia against the CIA alleging that the agency had held him captive for decades in “a lower perspective called the book world based on physics” and defrauded him of $29 million. Had demanded The suit, which was handwritten, claimed the agency was “brutally torturing” those with “degenerative disabilities” from the “fourth dimension”.
Representative Hakeem Jefferies of New York, the top Democrat in the House, called the attack “appalling”.
“We are grateful to the members of law enforcement and medical professionals who acted swiftly to apprehend the suspect and provide care for the affected members of our Capitol Hill community,” Mr. Jeffries said. “The safety of our members and our employees is paramount, especially given the increasing incidence of political violence in our country.”
Mr Jeffries said he asked the House Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police to “take every precaution possible to protect the members and our staff, who serve the American people with patriotism and passion and at the risk of their own safety.” deserve to do so without fear.” ,
comes under attack increase in threats And violent political speech against members of Congress in recent years. In October, an intruder dodged Husband of Representative Nancy PelosiAfter the assailant shouted, “Where’s Nancy?”
Last month, Capitol Police Chief J.J. Thomas Manger testified on Capitol Hill about the growing threat across the country. Last year, there were more than 7,000 threats against members of Congress.
“One of the greatest challenges we face today is dealing with the huge increase in the number of threats against members of Congress — nearly 400 percent over the past six years,” he said. “During the past year, the world has changed steadily, becoming more violent and uncertain.”