Crime and Courts

Man Accused in Baseball Bat Attack on Congressional Staffers Faces Federal Charge

The suspect is accused of attacking an employee and a new intern at the Fairfax, Virginia, office of U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly

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The man accused of attacking two staff members at U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly's office with a baseball bat is facing a federal charge, authorities said Wednesday.

Video from inside the office in Fairfax, Virginia, shows the damage done to computers, walls and other properties, and a new affidavit filed in federal court explains what happened to the victims.

The FBI says Xuan-Kha Tran Pham, 49, of Fairfax, struck an employee in the head with a metal bat, and hit an intern in the ribs. Pham allegedly turned back to the first victim, telling her "I'm going to kill you" and hitting her multiple times.

Then, the FBI says, Pham said he wanted to talk to Connolly.

According to an affidavit submitted by an FBI agent, there is probable cause to charge Pham with the assault of an employee of the United States while performing official duties, inflicting bodily injury. He is also facing locally filed malicious wounding and aggravated malicious injury charges, according to court documents. One of those charges corresponds to a violent act that occurred minutes before the attack at Connolly's office, when Pham allegedly chased a woman with the metal bat.

Connolly was not present during the attack in his office, which began while an employee was showing a new intern how to perform administrative work. Suddenly, Pham, 49, of Fairfax, opened the door with a baseball bat and struck the employee in the head, according to the FBI affidavit.

According to court documents, the intern tried to run to the back office but the attacker struck her in the ribs. It was her first day on the job.

The man then resumed hitting the first victim, allegedly saying, "I'm going to kill you" and "you're going to die." The employee estimated that he struck her about eight times, according to the affidavit. When another person entered the room, distracting Pham, the woman was able to get off the floor and escaped to a back room.

Witnesses say the attacker said he wanted to talk to Connolly and struck his own head with his hand.

City of Fairfax police officers arrived and took Pham into custody.

The two victims were taken to a hospital and have since been released.

The day after the attacks, authorities said Pham has a criminal record and that he had allegedly attacked police officers before. His father, Hy Pham, told The Washington Post that his son is schizophrenic and has dealt with mental illness since his teens. The father also indicated that he had been trying to arrange for mental health care for his son but hadn't been able to.

Pham apparently called Connolly's office approximately three times in February, according to the FBI document. Someone who answered one of those calls described him as speaking "gibberish about DNA and God."

“At this time, it is not clear what the suspect’s motivation may have been,” U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement announcing a joint investigation with City of Fairfax police.

In an aside with the press early Tuesday, Connolly said the incident shows just how vulnerable public servants are amid growing threats.

“I have no reason to believe that his motivation was politically motivated, but it is possible that the sort of toxic political environment we all live in, you know, set him off, and I would just hope all of us would take a little more time to be careful about what we say and how we say it,” Connolly said.

Following the attack, News4 got video of federal authorities seizing property from the home where Pham lives, appearing to take a computer and documents.

Pham was arraigned on his four local charges Tuesday and has another court date set for July.

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