Man with baseball bat attacked staffers at Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office, police say
Washington — A man wielding a metal baseball bat attacked two members of Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly’s staff at his district office in northern Virginia on Monday morning, according to police.
U.S. Capitol Police identified the suspect as 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham of Fairfax. He is in custody and faces charges of aggravated malicious wounding and malicious wounding. The congressman was at a ribbon-cutting event at a nearby food bank at the time of the attack.
The incident happened shortly before 11 a.m. Monday when the suspect arrived at Connolly’s office, police said. Connolly told CBS News that the suspect approached an intern, who was on her first day on the job, at the reception desk and asked for him.
“And she told him what he didn’t want to hear, which was I wasn’t there,” Connolly said. “He then proceeded to beat her with a bat.”
Other staffers heard the commotion and ran to the reception desk, which is when the suspect then turned on them and hit a senior aide in the head.
“At that point, one of my fast-thinking staff aides said, ‘Oh, you want to see the congressman? Let me go get him for you,'” Connolly said, adding that the aide then gathered other staff in a safe spot and called the police.
A spokesperson for the Fairfax City Police Department said officers arrived at the scene within five minutes.
“They had to taser him, he was that agitated and violent,” Connolly said. “And I understand there was a bit of an altercation and one police officer had minor injuries from it.”
Both the intern and senior aide were brought to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and Connolly said both have since been released. The suspect also damaged computers and glass at the office.
“At this time, it is not clear what the suspect’s motivation may have been,” Capitol Police said in a news release. “Based on what we know right now, investigators do not have any information that the suspect was known to the USCP.”
The Capitol Police and Fairfax City Police Department are investigating.
“Right now, our focus is on ensuring they are receiving the care they need,” Connolly said earlier Monday of his staffers, thanking first responders for their quick response. “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.”
Connolly told CBS News there was another incident before the suspect arrived at his district office in which he destroyed a woman’s windshield with a bat.
“He’d never been to the office,” Connolly said. “There was a contact of where he called for help on a case that was bizarre. … There was no connection between that and what happened this morning.”
Federal court records show that someone by the same name as Pham with an address in Fairfax County filed a lawsuit against the CIA in May 2022. In a handwritten, nonsensical complaint, the plaintiff alleged the CIA “wrongfully imprisoned me in a lower perspective” and accused the agency of “brutally torturing me with a degenerating disability consistently since 1988 till the present from the fourth dimension.” Pham asked that he “be cured and returned to normal condition by a digital technology and compensated for my extreme suffering and losses in the amount of $29,000,000.” The Justice Department sought to dismiss the case in March.
Last year, the U.S. Capitol Police investigated about 7,500 cases of potential threats against members of Congress. It was a slight decrease from 2021, when there were 9,600 case, but the number of cases in 2021 doubled from four years earlier.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called the attack “heinous” and said Connolly’s colleagues were “praying for the quick recovery of the staffers injured.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a statement that the safety of lawmakers and their staff “remains of paramount importance, particularly given the increased instances of political violence in our country.”
“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. “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.”
The attack follows an assault on Rep. Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat, at her apartment building in Washington in February. Craig said a man, who has since been indicted, trapped her in an elevator, assaulted her and ordered her to let him into her apartment. She said she refused and threw hot coffee on him before escaping the elevator.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul was seriously injured in a violent attack last October at the couple’s San Francisco home. Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and injuries to his arms and hands and had to undergo surgery after he was attacked with a hammer by an intruder who allegedly said he was looking to kidnap the then-House speaker, who was not home at the time.
A massive government spending bill passed in December included millions of dollars to bolster security for lawmakers in their home states and while in Washington.
Nikole Killion and Rebecca Kaplan contributed reporting.