MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This morning’s shooting of Louisiana Republican Representative Steve Scalise hit home for Minnesota Representative Erik Paulsen.
Paulsen shares a house in Washington with three other congressmen, including Majority Whip Scalise.
“You can imagine how hard it is to hear that someone you work along side with has been shot,” Paulsen told WCCO-TV.
Paulsen spent much of the day at a Washington-area hospital, where his roommate is in critical condition.
Paulsen is on the Republican baseball team, and even has his own baseball card.
By chance, he missed practice this morning because he was meeting constituents for a White House tour.
“I received a text from one of my other roommates saying there had been a shooting at the baseball practice and that Steve had been hit,” Paulsen said. “So my heart just sank immediately, wondering in my mind: what’s happening?”
Scalise was shot as he stood at midfield near second base.
At the hospital: Paulsen says Scalise’s Capitol security officer recounted for him the agonizing minutes while the attack was underway.
“He did say he saw Steve Scalise go down in the field, and he started shooting immediately to get the shooter’s attention,” Paulsen said. “He had to use several magazines of bullets himself for protection . He said the barrel of the rifle was pretty much staring down right at him as he was firing.”
In Washington, Paulsen shares a house with Scalise and Congressmen Kevin Brady of Texas and John Shimkus of Illinois.
“We call him the Ragin’ Cajun because he’s got a flair for having fun. He’s got a great family guy,” he said. “You may not be able to understand his accent, but in many ways he is very Minnesotan. 29 and Minnesota nice.”
At Scalise’s hospital room, Paulsen and his roommates watched on television as Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appealed for unity.
Paulsen says he’s shocked by the incident, but hopeful that the harsh political atmosphere will change.
“Despite the portrayal of Congress as not getting along, we are really all very collegial. And a family in some ways,” Paulsen said.