Pence offers prayers for Scalise, praise for police officers

VP Pence visited the hospital where Scalise is being treated Thursday.

MIAMI (CNN) — Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged Thursday the “seriously wounded” Rep. Steve Scalise and the “courageous” Capitol Police officers who engaged a gunman during the congressional baseball practice shooting a day before.

Speaking before Central American leaders at a prosperity and security conference organized by the State Department and Homeland Security Department here, Pence said he and President Donald Trump were “deeply saddened” when they received the news Wednesday.

“I served with many of these congressmen, they’re my friends, including Rep. Steve Scalise, who is seriously wounded — but I can say with confidence that he continues to receive the best possible medical care.”

Pence had visited the hospital where Scalise is being treated earlier in the day.

“Congressman Scalise is a good man, he’s a principled leader and a patriot,” Pence said. “Steve loves this country and his service does credit to the people of his state and the people of this nation.”

Despite the tragedy, Pence said the best of America will shine at Thursday night’s congressional baseball game, for which the lawmakers were practicing when they were attacked.

“While there were always be those who seek to divide, who choose insult over insight, tonight, on a baseball field in our nation’s capital, the world will see America is better than that,” Pence said.

Wednesday morning, as Republican lawmakers were practicing for the game, a lone gunman opened fire, striking Scalise in the hip and hitting a congressional staffer for Rep. Roger Williams, Zach Barth; lobbyist Matt Mika; and Capitol Police Agent Crystal Griner. Williams and Capitol Police Agent David Bailey were also injured in the incident.

Griner, Bailey and a third officer, Henry Cabrera, engaged the gunman almost immediately, and Alexandria Police officers quickly added support upon arriving at the scene, eventually fatally wounding the alleged gunman, identified by federal law enforcement sources to CNN as James Hodgkinson.

Pence praised their heroism, echoing many others who have said that the tragedy could have claimed countless lives had they not been there and acted swiftly.

“We’re especially thankful for the brave police officers that ran into danger without regard to their personal safety,” Pence said. “The courageous actions … saved lives and prevented an even greater tragedy, and the American people are grateful.”

Pence said he and his wife, Karen, were praying for Scalise and all the injured and their families, as is America.

“When a neighbor is hurting or under attack, the American people come together with generosity, compassion and prayer, and we always will,” Pence said.