The FBI identified the gunman who opened fire this morning during a congressional congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. The bureau said Hodgkinson was taken to the hospital, where he died.
A Facebook page belonging to a person with that name from the Belleville area contains several posts critical of President Trump. (There is no confirmation that it belongs to the alleged suspect.) In one, Trump is described as a “traitor” who “has destroyed our democracy.” The Facebook account’s banner has an image of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary. His profile picture has the U.S. flag with the words: “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: We the People.” He also appeared to maintain a Twitter account, which wasn’t particularly active. His most recent posts urged Democratic senators to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, Michael Hodgkinson, toldTheNew York Times. He said news of the shooting came “totally out of the blue.” He said his sister had spoken to Hodgkinson’s wife on Tuesday and, in the words of the newspaper, “the wife said that Mr. Hodgkinson had called home to say he was planning to come home because he missed his wife and dogs.”
Charles Orear, 50, of St. Louis, toldThe WashingtonPost he met Hodgkinson when they worked together in Iowa on the Sanders campaign.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said when told by the Post about the shooting. He called Hodgkinson a “quiet guy,” “very mellow, very reserved.” “He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” he told the newspaper. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
Former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille told the Post he spoke to the shooter almost every morning at the local YMCA, which is near the baseball field where the shooting occurred. He said the man had been living out of his gym bag. Euille said they spoke mostly about local restaurants and things to do.
“He was a very friendly person,” Euille said, but added: “[H]e sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours. Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town.”
Here’s more on Hodgkinson from his local newspaper: The Belleville News-Democratreported:
Hodgkinson, 66, owns a home-inspection business. Hodgkinson was a licensed home inspector from 1994 to 1997, when his license expired, according records from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He also held a license from 2003 to 2016, but it was not renewed. …
Hodgkinson has a varied arrest record in St. Clair County, for offenses such as failing to obtain electrical permits, damaging a motor vehicle, resisting a peace officer, eluding police, criminal damage to property, driving under the influence and assorted traffic offenses.
Read the newspaper’s full profile of Hodgkinson, including details of his background and family life.
Separately, NBC News cited court records showing Hodgkinson was arrested in 2006 for assaulting his girlfriend. The Daily Beastadds:
In 2006, he was arrested for domestic battery and discharge of a firearm after he punched a man’s girlfriend “in the face with a closed fist,” according to a police report reviewed by The Daily Beast. When the man walked outside of the residence, Hodgkinson aimed a shotgun at him and later fired one round.
Hodgkinson was also “observed throwing” an unidentified minor “around the bedroom,” the police report said. Police identified the girl as his daughter. After the girl broke free, Hodgkinson followed and “started hitting her arms, pulling her hair, and started grabbing her off the bed.”
When Hodgkinson’s girlfriend tried to leave in a vehicle, he reached inside and “turned off the ignition,” the report said. “James then pulled out a possible pocket knife and cut [her] seatbelt.”
The charges were dismissed, according to court records.
Hodgkinson also wrote a number of letters to the newspaper, urging higher taxes on the rich:
Sanders in a statement that did not mentioned Hodgkinson said he “was sickened by this despicable act.”
“Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”