Bat-wielding attacker injures Virginia congressman's district office staff
WASHINGTON — A 49-year-old Virginia man armed with a metal baseball bat entered the district office of Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., on Monday morning and attacked two members of his staff, the congressman and U.S. Capitol Police said 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 transferred to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” Connolly said.
U.S. 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 wasn’t in his office at the time.
Pham faces charges of one count of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of malicious wounding, the agency said, and it’s not clear what his motivation may have been.
The alleged attacker hit staffers with a metal bat, according to Connolly’s chief of staff, Jamie Smith, who told NBC News that the man is a constituent.
The alleged assailant also damaged parts of the office by breaking glass and shattering 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 on the job. It’s unclear who the other injured staffer was. Connolly later told reporters on Capitol Hill that he visited the two staffers in the hospital and that they have both been released.
Fairfax City police said a police officer also sustained a minor injury and was receiving medical treatment. Police arrested Pham within five minutes of having received an emergency call, and he was being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.
"Based on what we know right now, investigators do not have any information that the suspect was known to the USCP," said Capitol Police, which also said that special agents from Capitol Police's police threat assessment section were dispatched to Fairfax, which is just miles outside Washington, D.C., on Monday. The agency also coordinated with local police and the FBI's Washington field office.
Pham sued the CIA last year claiming it had been “wrongfully imprisoning [him] in a lower perspective based on physics” and alleging that he is being “brutally tortured … from the fourth dimension.”
The complaint, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being “gangstalked,” or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using nonexistent technology. Pham asked to be “cured” by an unstated “digital technology.” The CIA moved to dismiss the trial last month. Pham represented himself in the trial.
Connolly expressed exasperation over the incident at his district office, saying: “My District Office staff make themselves available to constituents and members of the public every day. The thought that someone would take advantage of my staff’s accessibility to commit an act of violence is unconscionable and devastating.”
Asked by reporters if he was considering increasing security following the incident, Connolly said, "We are going to absolutely look at security and consult with the Capitol Hill police," adding that Democrats and Republicans alike "don't have the kinds of security we have up here in the Capitol at the district level."
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement that he spoke to Connolly on Monday to offer him and his staff the full support of the House Democratic Caucus. He also said Congress has to take "every available precaution to protect Members and our staff."
"The safety of our Members and of our staff remains of paramount importance, particularly given the increased instances of political violence in our country," said Jeffries, who added that he has asked the House sergeant at arms and U.S. Capitol Police "to continue their focus on collaborating with our Members."
Sen. 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. Sending my best wishes to @GerryConnolly and his team, with hopes for swift recoveries of his staffers 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 tweet, saying that "violence does not belong in our political system."
Members of Congress have expressed concern about security at their offices or at their homes, especially since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
In October, a man with a hammer attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at their home in San Francisco.
In 2017, a man shot several people as a group of Republican lawmakers were practicing for a congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. Then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was among them and had to undergo surgery and physical therapy.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com