On Monday morning, a man wielding a metal bat attacked Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly’s Fairfax district office. Two members of Connolly’s staff were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and the assailant is in custody.
A man armed with a metal baseball bat entered Rep. Gerry Connelly’s district office in Fairfax on Monday morning and asked to speak with the Democratic congressman. He then attacked two congressional staffers, who were transported to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The assailant’s motive was not immediately known, and the Fairfax City Police swiftly took him into custody.
The United States Capitol Police is working with the Fairfax City Police Department to investigate the incident, and they identified the suspect as 49-year old Xuan Kha Tran Pham of Fairfax, Virginia. He faces charges for malicious wounding and aggravated malicious wounding.
Connolly expressed shock and anger that anyone would target his staff.
“I have the best team in Congress. My District Office staff make themselves available to constituents and members of the public every day,” Connolly said in a statement. “The thought that someone would take advantage of my staff’s accessibility to commit an act of violence is unconscionable and devastating.”
Monday’s act of political violence comes amid growing incidents of threats and attacks against elected officials and members of Congress in recent years, including the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and a brutal assault on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband last fall.
Members of Congress have reported feeling increasingly unsafe both in Washington and in their home districts in recent years. According to figures from the Capitol Police, the number of recorded threats against U.S. senators and representatives increased more than tenfold in the five years after Trump’s 2016 election. Bitter criticism of members of Congress is nothing new, but until recently, violent acts toward them were a relatively rare phenomenon. Lawmakers themselves are reporting an increase in frightening confrontations.