WASHINGTON — Hours later, some lawmakers walked the marbled Capitol hallways still caked in sweat, wearing dusty baseball cleats and T-shirts.
Many had been praying. Some exchanged hugs hours after the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice that had lawmakers diving to the dirt to avoid gunshots.
After months of caustic debates over President Trump, health care, and investigations into Russia — battles that had turned the Capitol in a daily cauldron — there were calls for civility.
Republicans canceled votes in the House, gathering instead for a brief session during which they prayed and thanked the Capitol Police. Many called for toning down the rhetoric that has continued at a fever pitch after a highly divisive presidential election. Democrats canceled political events assailing Trump.
"It seems as though hate just over political differences has ratcheted up to where it is just entertainment value, and that has to stop," said Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.), who was at the plate on the Alexandria, Va., ball field when the shooting started.
Dressed in a maroon Texas A&M T-shirt and Under Armour cleats, he spoke to reporters with dried blood still on one elbow and palm, though where it came from was unclear.
"I was asked before if it was America's breaking point on hateful rhetoric. It's my breaking point," Davis said. "I'm going to do everything I can to make it stop."
Police say the shooter was a 66-year-old Illinois man, a Bernie Sanders supporter sharply critical of President Trump. Davis said it made him "nauseous" to know the assailant was from his home state.
Lawmakers who were there described hearing a loud pop — at first Davis thought it was from a construction site — and then a barrage. They told of diving into the dirt or hurtling into a dugout for cover.
Rep. Pat Meehan, a normally stoic former prosecutor from Delaware County, choked up as he spoke to reporters about what the traditional congressional baseball game means to him and his colleagues, including Steve Scalise, the high-ranking Louisiana Republican in critical condition after the shooting.
"It's one of the things that make you feel more normal," said Meehan, a pitcher for the GOP team who skipped Wednesday's practice because he had thrown on Tuesday. "The camaraderie we have in the morning when we are there is such a change from the pressures that we all feel on a regular basis, and sort of a return to the fun things. Scalise is the whip, but out there on the field, we treat each other like we're back in high school again."
He and Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) often joke about the time Meehan struck him out with a curveball. On Wednesday, Ryan gave him a hug.
"It tells you how much we share that's just something away from this, a charity game for a good cause," Meehan said.
Even simple descriptions of the event were chilling.
"I got shot this morning at the baseball fields," began a Facebook post from Zack Barth, a congressional aide wounded in the attack, which began shortly after 7 a.m.
Lawmakers told reporters about finding out while working out at the House gym and seeing reports on cable news.
Trump called for unity.
"We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country," he said in an address to the country.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), who was at the practice, told NBC that former President Barack Obama was among those who called him after the shooting.
In the only House meeting of the day, Speaker Paul Ryan urged his colleagues to remember one photo on Twitter — of Democrats at their own practice bowing their heads in prayer when they heard of the shooting.
"We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," Ryan told the lawmakers, who responded with a standing ovation. His praise for the bravery of the Capitol Police won the kind of applause usually reserved for State of the Union speeches, and sometimes not even then.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, hated on the right, was also cheered on both sides of the aisle as she echoed Ryan's praise.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, spoke to reporters while still wearing his orange University of Tennessee hat and red baseball jersey, with "Republicans" in script across the chest and an elephant on his sleeve.
He said he loved interacting with people in his districts and did not want fear to overtake that. "That's the way our founding fathers wanted it and that's the way I always want it to be," he said.
But many lawmakers said they had seen a spike in threats in recent months and some called for added security for members of Congress.
"I've had more threats this year than any other time," said Rep. Lou Barletta (R., Pa.), a close Trump ally. After his vote in favor of the GOP health plan, he said, one man left a message that "he wasn't going to live long because of a vote that I took, and now it was my turn to die as well."
There was also blame and, quickly, politics crept in.
Some Republicans blamed Democrats' recent rhetoric. Newt Gingrich cited "an increasing intensity of hostility on the left."
Barletta pointed to comedian Kathy Griffin's decision to pose with a fake decapitated Trump head.
"As a country we've got to tone it down. We can still have our differences, but i think it's gone too far," Barletta said.
Before Wednesday, Democrats had long argued that Trump stoked hate with his slashing style, and many have complained that Obama had faced unprecedented hostility. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, said "there are too many guns on the street," raising a politically charged issue.
Rep. Ryan Costello from Chester County was supposed to be at practice playing shortstop — right next to Scalise, who was at second base. But Costello had missed his ride.
"I would have been in the line of fire. You talk to your wife, you talk to your mom, you see Steve on that stretcher, it makes you think of a lot of things," he said, his eyes welling.
Amid anticipation of a fun event for charity, one that has gone on for decades, he said, "it's an ugly jolt."
Nearby, tour groups continued to file through the halls, and the Senate voted on sanctions against Russia, signs of normalcy on a day that felt far from normal.