Congressman’s staffers hospitalised after baseball bat attack at Virginia office

The two members of Rep Gerry Connolly’s staff were treated for non-life-threatening injuries

Eric Garcia
Monday 15 May 2023 21:30 BST
(Getty Images)

Police arrested a man who entered the district office of Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia, after he attacked two members of his staff with a baseball bat.

Mr Connolly released a statement saying that the person who committed the attack is now in the custody of the City of Fairfax Police Department after causing non-life-threatening injuries to the staffers.

“Right now, our focus is on ensuring they are receiving the care they need,” Mr Connolly said on Monday.

The suspect allegedly visited the politician’s district office and asked for the congressman while holding the baseball bat before attacking the two staffers.

“I have the best team in Congress,” Mr Connolly said in a statement. “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.”

Lisa Gardner, a spokesperson for the police department in Fairfax, said the attacker wielded a metal bat and said he will be held in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

“It is very concerning and it’s quite frankly scary that someone can just walk up to an office, holding a baseball bat and just start swinging at innocent victims,” she said.

US Capitol Police and the Fairfax City Police Department said Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, of Fairfax entered the office around 10.49am on Monday with a metal baseball bat and assaulted the two staffers.

The attack is the latest in a spate of violent threats against members of Congress in recent months. In February, Democratic Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota was attacked outside her Washington DC apartment. Similarly, last year, a man attacked then-Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, who was campaigning for governor at the time.

In addition, another man broke into the San Francisco home of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulted her husband Paul Pelosi, which led to him suffering serious injuries. Violent threats against members have Congress have spiked in recent years.

The number of threats against members of Congress tripled from 2017 to 2021 when they reached 9,625. Senator Susan Collins of Maine warned The New York Times last year that “I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed.” Ms Gardner said Mr Connolly’s office hadn’t made the department aware of any threats.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries denounced the attack.

“I have asked the House Sergeant at Arms and the U.S. Capitol Police to continue their focus on collaborating with our Members,” he said in a statement.

“We must collectively take every available precaution to protect Members and our staff, who serve the American people with patriotism and passion and deserve to do so without fear for their safety.”

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