NEW ORLEANS – When word came from MedStar Washington Hospital Center that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise was in critical condition, reactions were in between shock and confusion.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting that wounded Scalise and four others, including the gunman who later died, the congressman’s office said he was stable, in “good spirits” and spoke to his wife by phone before he was wheeled into surgery.
It appeared he would be OK.
But by early afternoon, MedStar announced that Scalise was critical.
Jefferson Parish coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, a former emergency room surgeon and a friend of Scalise and his family, was not surprised to hear that.
He said it’s not uncommon for someone who suffered an injury such as Scalise’s to have some complications, the most common of which is related to bleeding after a gunshot.
“I would have been shocked had he not been put in the ICU given the injury that was described,” Cvitanovich said.
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Video taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting showed first responders working at a rapid clip to airlift Scalise to the hospital.
That early action by Capitol police and paramedics to stabilize Scalise on the field gave him the best chance for survival.
“They scooped him and went,” Cvitanovich said. “After the shooting, everything went as well as it could go.”
Scalise’s office said he was struck in the hip, but until there are more details released about his specific injuries, it’s almost impossible to discuss any prognosis for his future, Cvitanovich said, because of the myriad ways the bullet could have affected him.
“It’s hard to tell now knowing what his injuries are.”