A man with a metal baseball bat assaulted two staffers in the Virginia office of Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) on Monday, then smashed windows and a computer in an apparent rage after learning that the lawmaker wasn’t there. Fairfax City, Va., police and the U.S. Capitol Police charged Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, of Fairfax County, Va. The attack left an intern and the congressman’s outreach director with serious injuries. The attack comes as members of Congress have dealt with persistent menacing messages and threats . The man’s father said his son had long struggled with mental illness.
Last year, the Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Section examined 7,501 possible threats on members of Congress, though they decided only 313 such cases qualified as true threats. Prosecutors filed charges in only 22 cases. Connolly, who is serving his eighth term, said his office was working on a constituent issue for Pham at the time of the assaults. The congressman said that staffers had previously talked to the man on the phone and he seemed off, and that he had not received any reports the man said or did anything that would indicate a political motive for the attack. “The assumption is mental illness is at work, but we don’t know his background,” Connolly said. Hy Pham, Xuan Pham’s father, said his son was schizophrenic and had dealt with mental illness since his late teens.