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Local

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger describes threats in Washington

The shooting of a Republican congressman at a baseball outing on Wednesday occurred in an increasingly threatening climate in Washington, one local congressman said.

"I get a number of death threats," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, said in a conference call with local reporters after the shooting that wounded Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, and three other people at an Arlington, Virginia, baseball field.

Kinzinger is not the only Republican in Congress who voiced concerns about politically motivated threats. Local Democratic congressmen said they occasionally get threats but not more than usual.

"I have not experienced any increase in threats," said Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs. "I think much of the anger has been recently directed at the Republicans – being in the majority right now."

Kinzinger said he has received three death treats and has an order of protection against an individual from Colorado. He said he is among many in Congress receiving such threats.

"It's definitely overwhelming the investigative service of the Capitol Police," he said.

Two Capitol Police officers, injured in a shootout with the assailant, were at the baseball practice only because Scalise, a Republican congressional leader, was there. Without the police there, Kinzinger said, "this would have been a massacre."

"The tone of politics has gotten really, really bad," Kinzinger said. "Go look at my Facebook page. Look at other congressmen's Facebook pages, and you'll get the idea."

The shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, was a member of a Facebook group called "Terminate the Republican Party." Hodgkinson is dead.

Lipinski said he talked with Republican congressmen who were at the baseball field, some of whom were standing between Scalise and the shooter.

"To hear my friends and colleagues tell me what they went through is very chilling," Lipinski said. "Those who experienced it – it's going to stay with them forever."

Lipinski said the police officers and shooter exchanged gunfire across the baseball field as congressmen scattered.

Later Wednesday, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York reported to Capitol Police that she'd received a threatening email with the subject line, "One down, 216 to go." There were 217 Republicans who voted for a health care bill to replace President Barack Obama's plan, although the email did not explicitly refer to that bill.

"This is unfortunately not a new phenomenon," said U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville. "I was friends with Gabby Giffords."

Giffords is the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in 2011, igniting concerns about a violent political atmosphere.

"This climate comes and goes in terms of the energy and vilifying the other side," Foster said. "That's what we have to get away from."

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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