Police Say Stray Bullet Hit Office of Lawmaker
Published: March 26, 2010
On Thursday, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking Republican leader in the House, said that Democratic members of Congress were not the only ones who had been the targets of threats and vandalism in recent days. He said that he had been threatened, too, and that a bullet had been fired through the window of his campaign office in Richmond.
But a preliminary investigation indicated that the bullet was probably not aimed at his office, the Richmond police said Friday.
“We believe it was a stray bullet as a result of random gunfire,” said Gene Lepley, a spokesman for the Richmond Police Department.
Mr. Cantor drew attention to the incident at a news conference he held Thursday to criticize Democrats for publicizing the threats and vandalism several Democratic lawmakers have faced since they voted for the health care bill. Then he made a dramatic announcement.
“Just recently, I have been directly threatened,” he said. “A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I have received threatening e-mails. But I will not release them because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent.”
A preliminary investigation indicated that the incident in question took place around 1 a.m. Tuesday, when a bullet was apparently fired into the air, striking the office window as it traveled back downward, the Richmond police said in a statement.
The bullet struck the window with enough force to break a pane, the police said, but did not penetrate the blinds inside the window. The bullet landed about one foot inside the office, which Mr. Cantor had occasionally used for meetings, the police said.
At his news conference, where he declined to take questions from reporters, Mr. Cantor had urged that threats be left to law enforcement officials, and not used for publicity purposes.
“Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials,” he said. “It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain.”
A spokesman for Mr. Cantor did not return two calls or respond to an e-mail message seeking comment on Friday.