NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The events just outside of Washington D.C. resonated deeply on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill with one top lawmaker calling it “a watershed moment.”
House Republican Leader Glen Casada was both saddened by and blunt after the shooting that happened during a congressional baseball practice early Wednesday morning.
“It is troubling where we have reached a point in this country where if you disagree with the other party–in this case Republicans–you try to kill them,” he told News 2. “We have never been there before in this nation, except in the Civil War.”
Memphis Democrat Sen. Sara Kyle said it gave her “pause” because “it makes me realize how polarized the political system is. I think its time to slow down, take a deep breath and talk to one another.”
Rep. Johnny Shaw, who is also a preacher and radio station owner, brought a spiritual element into his thoughts about what happened at the ball field.
“It says sin is rampantly moving across this nation in many ways because it’s sad that when people cannot have their own personal preference about who they want to be in terms of being Republican or Democrat. That is very sad,” said the lawmaker.
Rep. Shaw also brought up the issues of gun control.
“I am all for carrying weapons legally. I am for owning weapons,” he added, “but we need to be careful as to how we let people own these high-powerful guns. They are outgunning the police.”
Rep. Casada saw the shooting differently.
“This is why I and my Republican peers are strong advocates of the Second Amendment,” said Rep. Casada. “You need to protect yourself from these kind of people because they walk through the laws that restrict gun ownership.”
In charge of protecting those lawmakers on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill is Capt. Tommy Fyke of the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Protective Services Division
“We stay on a heightened alert all the time all the time.” Capt. Fyke told News 2. “its just our job. We are always looking for that unknown.”
Captain Fyke was among those watching the events of the shooting unfold with his heart going out the victims, but he brings a different eye to politicians being targeted.
“We are constantly scanning the crowd, wherever we may be, whether it’s a ball game or hockey game. Wherever we go with our elected officials,” he said Wednesday in the hallways of the capitol.
The captain told us his troopers have worked with the nation’s capitol hill security when someone like the governor goes to Washington, or someone like House Speaker Paul Ryan comes to Tennessee like he quietly did recently.
There is always training for that unknown says Capt. Fyke, “because it could happen at any given time.”