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

A 49-year-old Virginia man who allegedly attacked two staff members of Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., with a metal baseball bat at his district office refused to appear for his arraignment in Fairfax County General District Court on Tuesday.

Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, a resident of Fairfax County, was identified as the suspect in the attack, U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement Monday. Connolly wasn’t in his office at the time of the attack, police said.

Fairfax City police said an officer also sustained a minor injury and was receiving medical treatment. Pham was arrested by police within five minutes of their having received an emergency call and is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond, the police said. 

Pham refused to appear for his arraignment by video conference from the jail by Judge Susan Earman at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

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 was arraigned on four charges, three felonies and one misdemeanor. The felony charges include one count of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of malicious wounding and one count of destruction of property. He is also charged with one count of a hate crime, a misdemeanor, for a verbal statement Pham allegedly made to a woman in her car minutes before the attack on Connolly’s staff. Fairfax County Police said he asked the woman if she was white before hitting her windshield with the bat and running away, the Associated Press reported.

Pham will be given a court-appointed attorney and has a preliminary hearing in General District Court on July 17 at 2 p.m.

In response to the attack on Connolly’s office, Mark Bednar, a spokesman for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday that the speaker “has made clear his expectation that politics must be separated from security and has empowered the House Sergeant at Arms to work with 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 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.”

One of the victims of Monday’s attack is an intern who was on her first day on the job. It’s unclear who the other injured staffer is. Connolly later told reporters on Capitol Hill that he visited the two staffers in the hospital and that they have both been released.

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 represented himself in the trial.

Kyle Stewart and Sahil Kapur contributed.

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