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Democratic congressman’s staff attacked by man with baseball bat


By Manu Raju, Annie Grayer, Kristin Wilson and Melanie Hicken, CNN

Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly said two staffers were injured Monday by a man wielding a bat who came into his district office in Fairfax.

Connolly told CNN that the assailant who entered his office and attacked two of his aides did so with a metal bat. The attacker struck one senior aide in the head with the metal bat, he said. The attacker also hit an intern — on her first day on the job — in the side with the bat.

In a statement earlier Monday, Connolly said that both aides were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and City of Fairfax Police Department arrested the man.

The suspect, whom US Capitol Police identified as 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham of Fairfax is facing charges for one count of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of malicious wounding, USCP stated.

“At this time, it is not clear what the suspect’s motivation may have been,” USCP said in their statement. “Based on what we know right now, investigators do not have any information that the suspect was known to the USCP.”

Pham suffers from schizophrenia, his father said in an interview with CNN, and had previously been charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer before the charge was subsequently dropped, records show.

The attacker, who is a constituent from his district but who Connolly said he doesn’t know, caused wide damage in his office, shattering glass in a conference room and breaking computers along the way. “He was filled with out of control rage,” Connolly told CNN in a phone interview.

Connolly said later Monday that the man had contacted his office in the past.

“He had contacted our office, soliciting help on something, and my staff were helping him,” Connolly told CNN. “But there is no indication today that the two were related at all. And my staff did sense in talking to him that he engaged in bizarre statements. Never threatening, however.”

The Virginia Democrat said he didn’t “think there’s a motivation” for the incident, adding: “I think we are talking about real mental illness.”

Connolly said he was at a ribbon cutting at the time for a food bank when the assailant drove to his office and entered the building. The congressman estimates it took police about five minutes to respond to the emergency call for help.

Pham’s father, Hy Xuan Pham, told CNN his son is schizophrenic and hadn’t taken his medication for three months. He said that he last saw him Monday morning, and later heard from police that he had been arrested.

“He is in a really bad condition,” the father said in an interview. “All day and all night, he mumbles … he talks and looks like he talks with someone in his brain, and suddenly, he is shouting angrily.”

The suspect’s father said that he had tried to get his son mental health treatment but hadn’t been able to.

Virginia court records show that Pham was previously charged in January 2022 in Fairfax with felony assault on a law enforcement officer, several charges of attempted disarmament of a law enforcement officer’s stun gun, and obstructing justice or resisting arrest. The case’s disposition was listed as “nolle prosequi,” which generally means that the district attorney declined to prosecute it. No further details about the case were immediately available Monday afternoon.

Last year, someone with the same name and city of residence as Pham filed a federal lawsuit against the CIA, alleging in a short handwritten complaint that the agency was guilty of “wrongfully imprisoning me in a lower perspective based on physics called the book world since 1975,” and “brutally torturing me with a degenerating disability consistently since 1988 till the present from the fourth dimension.”

The CIA moved to dismiss the case, which Pham filed without a lawyer, earlier this year, calling his claims “facially implausible.” The motion is pending.

Monday’s attack comes amid a string of incidents where members of Congress, their staff and their families have been attacked in recent months.

In March, a staffer for Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was stabbed in Washington, DC. In February, a man assaulted Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota in the elevator of her apartment building also in Washington. In October, a man attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, hospitalizing him after hitting Paul Pelosi with a hammer in the couple’s home in San Francisco.

Connolly said Monday that there needs to be more security funding for members’ offices in their districts.

“I think we’re gonna have to reassess the security we provide or don’t provide district offices,” Connolly said. “So if you’re a member of Congress and your office happens to be in a federal building, in the courthouse, you’re gonna have security. But if you’re in a commercial office space like me, you have no security. None. And what could go wrong with that? Well, we learned the answer to that this morning.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Casey Tolan, Blake Ellis, and John Miller contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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