One year later: BuzzFeed feature gets the 'miracle' details in GOP baseball shooting

Did you notice that Rep. Steve Scalise returned, to the best of his abilities, to the annual Congressional Baseball game the other night?

It has been a year since that stunning mass shooting, when an angry liberal Democrat came close, close, close to gunning down most of the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. Here is a link to a nice NPR update on how Scalise is doing, using the 1-year anniversary as a news hook,

Sure enough, the word "miracle" is a key part of the story.

The anniversary reminded me of a magazine-length piece at BuzzFeed that has been buried deep in my GetReligion folder of guilt for several weeks. This happens, sometimes, with long, long stories. They are hard to critique in a short post and, well, they rarely draw responses from GetReligion readers. We are all rather busy, aren't we?

Anyway, the BuzzFeed story focused on two primary angles of the near massacre -- one political (and rooted in journalism) and the other is religious. This is the rare case in which the religion angle was handled better than the political one. The massive headline on this piece proclaimed:

How The Congressional Baseball Shooting Didn't Become The Deadliest Political Assassination In American History

The political angle?

Why wasn't this bizarre and troubling event a bigger deal -- a bigger news story -- than it was? Why did the story slide on A1 so quickly? This story almost, almost, almost was one of the biggest events in the history of American politics. BuzzFeed noted:

What is certain is the disquieting way June 14 slipped beneath the news so quickly. The shooting felt much further away by July, August, September than mere months. If people joke about how the weeks feel like years in the current era, there’s an unsettling truth behind the joke -- the way anything can lose scale and proportion. Two dozen members of Congress were nearly killed one morning last year, and the country didn’t change very much at all.

Was the problem blunt politics, including bias in newsrooms? After all, this was a liberal shooting conservatives, an angry Democrat shooting gun-loving Republicans. This story covers this angle, a little, but doesn't dwell on it, noting that, "many lawmakers are mad, or frustrated, or saddened, at how quickly the story disappeared from the headlines given that the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, targeted Republicans."

I will move on, as well. It's the "miracle" angle that I think will interest most GetReligion readers.

This story dedicated quite a bit of material to the fact that an interesting series of coincidences led to the massacre being stopped. Some participants called them "miracles" -- miracles of timing, at the very least. Here is a crucial passage:

If you ask the people who survived, a series of miracles took place that morning, which Roger Williams considers “angels,” and Rep. Jeff Duncan, “God winks.”
That the shooter never got a good shot into the dugout. That his first shot hit the fence, diverting the bullet’s path away from Rep. Trent Kelly who was standing directly in front of him, at third base. That he never thought to climb the announcer’s booth. That the pitchers weren’t there that day, instead of trapped in a batting cage. That [lobbyist] Matt Mika was turning his body when the first bullet struck him, so it didn’t hit his heart. That Zack Barth could still run. That Dr. Brad Wenstrup didn’t leave early. That Richard Krimmer’s ambulance hit green lights the entire way to the field. That the gate next to third base -- through which the shooter could’ve walked through right onto the field -- was locked, another fact nearly everyone on the team credits with saving their lives.
"If it was just one thing, you could maybe call it a coincidence, but when you add them all up together, the only way you can explain it is that they were all miracles,” Scalise says.
That Steve Scalise was even at the field was a miracle, too.
“The irony is because Steve Scalise was there,” Rodney Davis says, “we all survived.”

You see, since Scalise was the third-ranking Republican in the House, he had his own security detail. Because he was at this particular GOP practice session -- he almost wasn't -- the heroic US Capitol Police special agents, Crystal Griner and David Bailey, were on the scene to prevent the gunman from, well, shooting ducks in a pond.

The shooting was horrible, but it could have been so much worse. Here's another set of amazing details, linked to the "miracle" theme:

... Bailey would tell others that he realized his phone had maybe saved his life -- it took a bullet instead of his hip, and he happened to be holding it in the exact right place at the exact right time. Williams, as he relays this story, shows a photo of Bailey’s phone on his phone to remind him of this particular miracle.
“If Steve’s not there, he doesn’t get hit,” Wenstrup says. “But if Steve’s not there, there’s no one firing back. And you could have seen about 20 people laying on the field.” ...
Mika believes he is alive for a reason, “that the man above has got a better idea for me and for all of us, and so we’re all trying to figure out what that is.”

You need to read this whole story, because it's a stunner.

This was a case where the best journalistic option was to let the people in this drama speak from their hearts, allowing the readers to ponder the implications.

Read it all.

Please respect our Commenting Policy