A 49-year-old Virginia man accused of attacking two staff members of Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office with a metal baseball bat refused to appear at his arraignment Tuesday.
Xuan Kha Tran Pham, a Fairfax County resident, has been identified as the suspect in the attack, the US Capitol Police said in a statement Monday. Connolly was not in his office at the time, police said.
Fairfax City Police said one officer suffered a minor injury and was receiving medical treatment. Pham was arrested within five minutes after police received an emergency call and is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond, police said.
Pham refused to appear for his arraignment by video link from jail before Judge Susan Earman of the county’s General District Court.
Pham allegedly beat two employees with a metal bat and also damaged parts of the office, breaking glass and vandalizing computers, according to Connolly’s chief of staff, Jamie Smith.
Pham was arraigned on four counts, three felonies and one misdemeanor. The felony charges were one count of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of malicious wounding, and one count of destruction of property. He was also charged with one count of a misdemeanor hate crime for a statement Pham allegedly made to a woman in his car minutes before the attack on Connolly’s staff. Fairfax County police said they asked the woman if she was white before hitting the windshield with the bat and running off, The Associated Press reported.
Pham will receive court-appointed counsel and have a preliminary hearing on July 17 at 2 p.m.
Lawmakers from all stripes and others came to Connolly Tuesday to express their sympathy and support, including Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn.
Connolly told NBC News that his remaining staff Tuesday morning had to clean up «blood and glass» from the attack. He said that perhaps Congress should provide cleanup services after such attacks.
«It just seems to me that my staff … just adds to the trauma that the next morning they’re cleaning up the blood and glass from a riot of this individual,» Connolly said. «I wish somehow that burden wouldn’t fall on them.»
Connolly also said his wife joined the staff in cleaning up. “I would have, but I had to come here. But she wanted to ease the burden on the staff, if she could,” she added.
One of the victims of the attack is an intern who was on her first day of work. It is unclear who the other injured staff member is. Later, Connolly told reporters on Capitol Hill that she had visited the two staff members at the hospital and that both had been released.
Responding to the attack, Mark Bednar, a spokesman for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday that the president «has made clear his expectation that politics should be separated from security and has authorized the House at Arms Sergeant to work with the US Capitol Police to protect all members of Congress as they deem necessary.»
McCarthy told NBC News on Tuesday that he spoke with Connolly on Monday night. Asked if he was concerned about the safety of the members, McCarthy said: «I’ve talked to the congressman about that as well, especially at the district offices.»
«I mean, it’s always a fear,» McCarthy said. “I know our office had to change, the district office too. It’s something you have to be continually aware of. What we have done in the past is put more money where people could protect themselves and watch their district offices. But it’s something everyone needs to be aware of, and we’ll continue to follow it.»
Pham sued the CIA last year, alleging it had been «wrongly imprisoning [him] in a lower physically based perspective” and claiming that he is being “brutally tortured… from the fourth dimension”.
The lawsuit, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being «gang stalked» or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using non-existent technology. Pham asked to be «healed» by an unstated «digital technology.» The CIA moved to dismiss the lawsuit last month. Pham represents himself in the case.
sahil kapur, scott wong and kyle stewart contributed.