Two congressional staffers at the district office for Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., were attacked by a man with a metal baseball bat in an "unconscionable and devastating" act of violence, the congressman said. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
May 15 (UPI) -- Two congressional staffers for Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., are recovering after a man, armed with a metal baseball bat, attacked them at the congressman's district office in Fairfax, Va., the congressman said.
"This morning, an individual entered my district office armed with a baseball bat and asked for me before committing an act of violence against two members of my staff," Connolly said in a statement Monday.
Connolly, who represents Virginia's 11th Congressional District, was not in the office when the attack occurred at 10:49 a.m. The two staffers were conscious when police arrived and were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The suspect, who has been identified as 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham of Fairfax, was taken into police custody within minutes of the attack.
He has been charged with felony aggravated malicious wounding and malicious wounding, according to the United States Capitol Police, which joined the investigation along with the FBI and Fairfax city police.
Investigators are still working to determine a motive.
Connolly, who was at a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the assault occurred, told CNN that the attacker is a constituent from his district, but that he does not know him personally.
Connolly said the suspect hit one of his senior aides in the head with a metal bat and struck an intern on the side. The suspect also broke several computers and shattered glass in the office, according to Connolly, who said the attacker "was filled with out-of-control rage."
"You could absolutely tell that people inside were scared. They were hiding," Fairfax city police Sgt. Lisa Gardner told reporters. "It's concerning and quite frankly scary that someone can walk up to an office with a baseball bat and just start swinging."
"I have the best team in Congress," Connolly said. "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."
Monday's attack in Connolly's office is the latest in recent months on members of Congress, their staff and their families.
In March, a staffer for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was stabbed in broad daylight in Washington, D.C.
One month earlier, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., was assaulted in the elevator of her Washington apartment building.
And in October, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attacked by an assailant with a hammer inside their San Francisco home.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger testified last month about the increasing number of threats.
"One of the biggest challenges we face today is dealing with the sheer increase in the number of threats against members of Congress -- approximately 400% over the last six years," Manger said.
"Over the course of the last year, the world has continuously changed, becoming more violent and uncertain."