WASHINGTON – A 49-year-old Virginia man armed with a metal baseball bat entered Rep. Gerry Connolly’s, D-Va., district office Monday morning and attacked two of his staff, the congressman said. and the US Capitol Police in separate statements.
“This morning, an individual entered my District Office armed with a baseball bat and asked for me before committing an act of violence against two members of my staff. The individual is in police custody and both members of my team were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries,” Connolly said.
The US Capitol Police said in a statement that the suspect was identified as Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, who lives in Fairfax County. He entered Connolly’s office around 10:49 a.m. ET, police said. Connolly was not in his office at the time.
Pham is facing charges of one count of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of malicious wounding, the agency said, and it is unclear what his motivation may have been.
The alleged shooter struck employees with a metal bat, according to Connolly’s chief of staff, Jamie Smith, who told NBC News the man is a constituent.
The alleged shooter also damaged parts of the office by breaking glass and vandalizing computers, Smith said. CNN first reported some of the details of the attack.
Connolly, 73, represents Virginia’s 11th Congressional District and has served in the House since 2009. His district office is in the city of Fairfax, Virginia.
One of the victims of Monday’s attack is an intern who was on her first day of work. It is unclear who the other injured staff member was. Later, Connolly told reporters on Capitol Hill that she visited the two staff members at the hospital and they were both released.
fairfax city police saying a police officer also suffered a minor injury and was receiving medical treatment. Police arrested Pham within five minutes of receiving an emergency call, and he was being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.
“Based on what we know at this time, investigators do not have any information that the suspect was known to the USCP,” said Capitol Police, who also said special agents from the Capitol Police’s police threat assessment section were shipped to Fairfax, which is just miles outside of Washington, DC, on Monday. The agency also coordinated with local police and the FBI’s Washington field office.
Pham sued the CIA last year, alleging it had been “wrongly imprisoning [him] in a lower physically based perspective” and claiming that he is being “brutally tortured… from the fourth dimension”.
The lawsuit, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being “gang stalked” or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using non-existent technology. Pham asked to be “healed” by an unstated “digital technology.” The CIA moved to dismiss the lawsuit last month. Pham represented himself at trial.
Connolly expressed his exasperation over the incident at his constituency office, saying: “My district office staff make themselves available to constituents and members of the public every day. The idea of someone taking advantage of the accessibility of my staff to commit an act of violence is inconceivable and devastating.”
Asked by reporters if he was considering increasing security after the incident, Connolly said, “We’re absolutely going to review security and check with the Capitol Hill police,” adding that both Democrats and Republicans “don’t have the kind of security that we have here in the Capitol at the district level.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., said in a statement that he spoke with Connolly Monday to offer him and his staff the full support of the House Democratic Caucus. He also said that Congress has to take “every precaution available to protect members and our staff.”
“The safety of our members and our staff continues to be of the utmost importance, particularly given the rise in instances of political violence in our country,” said Jeffries, adding that he has asked the House sergeant-at-arms and the US Capitol Police to focus on working with our members.”
Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted: “Intimidation and violence, especially against public servants, has no place in our society. This is an extraordinarily disturbing development, and my thoughts are with the staff members who were injured.”
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who represents another district in Northern Virginia, tweeted:: “This is very, very scary. I send my best wishes to @GerryConnolly and his team, hoping for a speedy recovery for his staff who were injured in this violent attack. My thanks to the authorities working to keep everyone safe.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, denounced the attacks in a cheepsaying that “violence does not belong in our political system”.
Members of Congress have raised concerns about security in their offices or in their homes, especially since the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In October, a man attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with a hammer at their home in San Francisco.
In 2017, a man shot multiple people while a group of Republican lawmakers practiced for a congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. Then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, was among them and had to undergo surgery and physical therapy.