WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump and wife Melania made a surprise visit Wednesday (June 14) to the bedside of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, critically wounded in a shooting at a charity baseball event, hours after calling for national unity.
Trump and the First Lady brought flowers to the hospital in north-east Washington where the lawmaker was recovering after surgery following the shooting in nearby Virginia, the White House said.
Trump had earlier called for national unity.
“We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good,” the President said in an address to the country from the Diplomatic Room of the White House.
The shooting came amid high political tension in the United States after a vitriol-filled 2016 election campaign.
“We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country,” Trump said, calling for the nation to put politics aside.
Trump praised the “heroic” acts of law enforcement in subduing the shooter, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson. He died of his injuries.
“Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” Trump said.
“Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims.”
Trump described Scalise as a “very good friend,” a “patriot” and a “fighter.”
“America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting,” he said.