Suspect in bat attack on congressman’s staff refuses to appear at arraignment

A 49-year Virginia man is accused of attacking two staff members Rep. Gerry Connolly refused to show up at his Tuesday arraignment with a metal bat.

U.S. Capitol Police issued a statement on Monday identifying Xuan Kha Tran Pham as the suspect. Connolly wasn’t in his office at the time, police said.

Fairfax City police confirmed that an officer had received minor medical treatment. Pham was taken into custody within five minutes after police received the emergency call. He is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, according to the police.

Pham declined to appear in person for his arraignment via videoconference from the jail, before Judge Susan Earman of the general district court of the county.

Pham allegedly hit two staffers with a metal bat and also damaged parts of the office, breaking glass and shattering computers, according to Connolly’s chief of staff, Jamie Smith.

Pham faced four charges: three felonies, and one misdemeanor. Pham was charged with three felonies, including one count each of aggravated malice wounding, malicious wounding and destruction of property. Pham was also charged with a hate crime misdemeanor for a statement he allegedly made in a car to a woman minutes before the attack against Connolly’s staff. Fairfax County Police reported that he asked her if she were white before hitting the windshield with the baseball bat and fleeing, The Associated Press.

Pham has been assigned an attorney by the court, and a preliminary trial will take place on July 17, at 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, lawmakers of all stripes, as well as others, went to Connolly to express their sympathy and support. Among them were Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and U.S. Capitol police officer Harry Dunn.

Connolly told NBC News that his remaining staff members Tuesday morning had to clean up “blood and glass.” He said that perhaps Congress should provide cleaning services after such attacks.

“It just seems to me my staff … it just adds to the trauma that the morning after they’re cleaning up blood and glass from a rampage by this individual,” Connolly said. “I wish somehow that burden didn’t fall on them.”

Connolly stated that his wife helped staff in the cleanup. “I would have done it, but I had to come here. But she wanted to relieve the burden of staff, if she could,” he added.

An intern on her first workday was one of the victims. It’s unclear who the other injured staffer is. Connolly told reporters later on Capitol Hill that the two injured staffers had been released from the hospital.

Mark Bednar is a spokesperson for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy, R.-Calif. said in a Tuesday statement that McCarthy “has made it clear that politics should be kept apart from security, and has empowered his House Sergeant of Arms to work alongside the US Capitol Police, to protect all members of Congress, as they see fit.”

McCarthy said to NBC News that he had spoken with Connolly Monday night. Asked if he has concerns about members’ security, McCarthy said, “I talked to the congressman about that too, especially in the district offices.”

“I mean, it’s always a fear,” McCarthy said. “I know our office had to change, the district office as well. It’s something you have to be continually cognizant of. What we’ve done in the past is we put more money in where people could protect and look at their district offices. But it’s something everybody has to be able to be cognizant of, and we’ll continue to follow it.”

Pham sued the CIA last year claiming it had been “wrongfully imprisoning [him] in a lower perspective based on physics” and alleging that he is being “brutally tortured … from the fourth dimension.”

The complaint, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being “gangstalked,” or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using nonexistent technology. Pham asked to be “cured” by an unstated “digital technology.” The CIA moved to dismiss the trial last month. Pham represents himself in this case.

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