Will shooting change security for congressmen?

A Capitol Hill Police officer walks past an automobile with the driver's window damaged at the scene of a shooting in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. was shot at a Congressional baseball practice. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The shooting at a congressional baseball practice that wounded a congressman, two Capitol Police officers and a lobbyist from Michigan is prompting a national discussion about the way our elected officials are protected.

On Thursday, former Secret Service agent Jason Russell weighed in on the Alexandria, Virginia shooting and what it means moving forward for securing elected officials.

“When you have that many high-profile, high-threat people in one area, you’re bound to get some interest and possibly some people that maybe have a desire to hurt somebody,” he said.

Russell worked for the Secret Service during the Bush and Obama administrations before starting Secure Education Consultants, a company that trains people on active shooter scenarios.

He echoed the praise being directed at Capitol Police, who are credited with preventing the Wednesday attack from becoming a massacre. Officers returned fire and killed the attacker, identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois.

“They did a pretty good job, I think, of locating the threat and isolating the threat and maneuvering themselves into position where they could respond to it while still providing protection for the people they were there to protect,” Russell commented.

He said there’s no doubt those in Washington will now be re-evaluating how officials are protected.

“I can promise you they’re going to re-evaluate, especially when they have large numbers of congressmen or congressional members in an area at an event. They’re certainly going to be paying more attention to that,” he said, but added that “you can never be prepared for an ambush like what you had (Wednesday). You just have to do the best you can. Try to assess the threat. Try to pay attention to warning signs and to the extent possibly try to mitigate those.”

24 Hour News 8 reached out to West Michigan representatives Thursday about their focus on safety. The office of U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, was the only one to respond, with spokesman Brian Patrick releasing this statement:

“Our office is currently reviewing our security protocols to see what, if any, changes need to be made. We will continue to work with both federal and local law enforcement to ensure the safety of all attendees at town hall style events. Congressman Huizenga has held in-person town halls, telephone town halls, and Facebook town halls this year and plans to continue to do so in the future.”