Politics

Brad Wenstrup calls for FBI to review decision labeling 2017 congressional shooting ‘suicide by cop’


A Republican lawmaker who witnessed the 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball practice is demanding a new investigation into how the FBI determined the incident was “suicide by cop.”

In a letter sent last week, but revealed Friday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, Ohio Republican, wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray that the bureau’s conclusion “defies logic.”

He said the attack should have been deemed as domestic terrorism.

“The conclusion defies logic and contradicts publicly known facts about the perpetrator and the attack,” Mr. Wenstrup wrote. “The shooter had an extensive social media record highlighting his hatred of President Trump. He had a list of names — including Republican Members of Congress — in his possession.”

“All these facts are inconsistent with a designation of ‘suicide by cop,” the letter continued.

Mr. Wenstrup also accused the FBI of running a shoddy investigation, including failing to interview key witnesses.

“I am extremely frustrated that the FBI failed to conduct thorough interviews during the initial investigation,” he wrote. “After canvassing multiple Members of Congress present during the attack, I am not aware that any of my colleagues present that day were interviewed as witnesses, including me.”

The incident occurred in June 2107 when James Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, opened fire at a Virginia baseball field where the Republican congressional baseball team was practicing. 

Hodgkinson was killed in a shootout with Capitol Police. Five others, including Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, were injured.

Mr. Wenstrup, who served as an Army surgeon during the Iraq war, applied first aid and worked to stop Mr. Scalise’s leg from bleeding.

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week, Mr. Wenstrup grilled the FBI Director about the “suicide by cop” designation. He told Mr. Wray, who was not in charge of the FBI at the time of the attack, that the designation was inaccurate and undermined the heroism of the survivors.

“Director, you want suicide by cop, you just pull a gun on a cop,” Mr. Wenstrup said at the hearing. “It doesn’t take 136 rounds. It takes one bullet.”

Mr. Wray did not respond to Mr. Wenstrup’s comments, other than to say he was not running the bureau at the time.

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