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Yes, That Is My Neighborhood in the News Today

June 14th, 2017 (01:49 pm)

The Alexandria shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and five others this morning happened right here in my neighborhood, outside the YMCA on Monroe Street. The gunman, identified as James Hodgkinson, was shot by Capitol Police officers and later died. The Congressman is out of surgery and expected to recover. The other wounded include both of the Capitol Police officers who were on the scene, a lobbyist, and a legislative correspondent.

The incident took place a little after 7 am, during a practice session for the Republican team that was scheduled to play in this week's Congressional baseball game for charity.

Del Ray is a close-knit neighborhood, and usually a peaceful one — like a small town in the middle of a major metropolitan area. We are a community with Kindness signs in people's front yards, Little Free Libraries, farmers' markets, and interactive public art projects. We are proud of our diversity, our locally owned businesses, our street festivals, our liberal voting record, and our award-winning middle-school orchestra.

Today it all looks different, with police helicopters buzzing overhead, sidewalks lined with yellow Crime Scene tape, and roads clogged with reporters and network news vans. Reporters keep trying to interview me, but I live a few blocks away and was asleep when it happened, so I didn't witness anything. I have a friend who lives very close to the Y and was one of the first 911 callers. She heard the gunshots and a bullet whizzing down her street, and spoke to witnesses who were running from the scene. She has been interviewed by at least a dozen news organizations today; her face and voice must be all over the country. I've seen pictures from inside the YMCA, where bullets slammed through the windows and even into the pool, where people were swimming.

I walked over to the site to see the 10:30 press conference in person. Authorities were keeping everyone away from the area directly around the YMCA, so the press conference took place a block away. It was crowded and difficult to hear some of the speakers, but I was there, and may appear in the background in some of the TV coverage. In addition to the press, we had the Alexandria mayor, police chief, and sheriff; the chief of the Capitol Police; a representative from the FBI, which has now taken over the investigation; Governor McAuliffe, Congressman Don Beyer (right, with the red tie), and Senator Warner; and many others.

The press conference didn't reveal much new information, but I wanted to see for myself what the local, state, and federal officials there had to say. And I guess I just wanted to be with neighbors.

I stopped in at my friend's house near the Y afterward, to make sure she and her family were OK, and they are fine -- just spending a lot of time answering phone calls from national news organizations.

So, all in all, it was a strange and disturbing morning around here. More photos below. (I took all of these.)