James T. Hodgkinson, Bellville Ill, Trump hater--Bernie supporter
James T. Hodgkinson has been identified as the shooter who opened fire on Republican members of Congress Wednesday morning at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, the Washington Post reports.
Hodgkinson, 66, is from Belleville, Illinois, the newspaper reports. A motive for the shooting is not yet known, but Hodgkinson’s Facebook page shows someone who had a high interest in politics, who supported Bernie Sanders during the presidential election and expressed anger with President Donald Trump and Republican Congressmen.
Hodgkinson is in critical condition at a local hospital, CNN reports.
The gunman was shot by two Capitol Hill Police officers who were at the scene as a security detail for Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, who was among those shot. The two police officers were also wounded, along with a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams of Texas and a lobbyist. Scalise and the officers are expected to survive.
Two Congressmen, Rep. Jeff Duncan and Rep. Ron DeSantis, described an encounter with a man who asked them if those practicing were “Republicans or Democrats” before the shooting. DeSantis, when shown a photo of Hodgkinson, confirmed he was the man who approached him,CNBC reports.
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said his officers and Capitol Police officers exchanged fire with the gunman.
Sources told the CNN it was a “deliberate attack.”
The GOP baseball team was practicing at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria when the shooting occurred. The Republican team was preparing to play its annual game against Democratic congressmen at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
This story is developing and little is known about the gunman so far. This post will be updated as more information is made available:
1. Hodgkinson Wrote on Facebook, ‘Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.’
Hodgkinson’s Facebook page features a banner image of Senator Bernie Sanders and a profile picture about Democratic Socialism. His profile picture says, “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: ‘We the People’ Since 1776.”
Hodgkinson is a Belleville, Illinois, native, according to his Facebook page. He owned a company, JTH Inspections, also called JTH Construction, and studied at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
He went to Belleville Township High School and also studied flight training at Southwestern Illinois College.
His Facebook page includes several political posts, including one on May 24 asking for signatures on a Change.org petition calling for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stop the NEXUS pipeline.
He also signed a petition on May 21 titled, “George H.W. Bush: Past Presidents Urge Congress to Launch Independent Investigation,” and shared that on his page as well.
On March 22 he wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
He has been critical of the Trump administration and called for Democrats to fight against it.
Hodgkinson campaigned for Sanders in Iowa while the Vermont lawmaker was running for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, the Washington Post reports.
Charles Orear, 50, of St. Louis, who worked alongside him, called Hodgkinson a passionate progressive who showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Orear told the newspaper. “I met him on the Bernie trail in Iowa, worked with him in the Quad Cities area.”
He said Hodgkinson is a “quiet guy,” “very mellow, very reserved,” who stayed with him at a fellow Sanders’s supporters home in Illinois.
“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” he told the Post. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
In August 2016, after Sanders had lost the Democratic nomination, he posted on Facebook, “I want Bernie to Win the White House,” along with a petition calling for Sanders to join the Green Party.
He was anti-Hillary Clinton, according to his Facebook posts.
“Bernie is a Progressive, while Hillary is Republican Lite,” he wrote.
He wrote, “Bernie is the Only Candidate in Decades that Really Cares about the Working Class. … Bernie is a Candidate of a Lifetime. We Need Bernie in the White House. Bernie is the Only Candidate Talking about the Issues.”
Sanders has not responded to the shooter’s support of his campaign, but tweeted, “Our prayers go out for a full recovery of Rep. Scalise, the congressional aides and police who were injured. We’ve got to stop the violence.”
2. He Has Posted About His Anger With Congressional Republicans Several Times on His Facebook Page & Shared an Anti-Scalise Cartoon
Hodgkinson wrote a post in October 2015 criticizing Republican members of Congress.
“Thieving Republican Congress Strikes Again!!!,” he wrote, while sharing a Matt Davies comic about Republicans.
He shared several cartoons in 2015, including one that was critical of Rep. Steve Scalise. He wrote, “Here’s a Republican that should Lose His Job, but they Gave Him a Raise.”
The cartoon shows Scalise speaking before a group of hooded KKK members, in reference to a 2014 incident when it was revealed he had spoken before a white supremacist group, with the caption, “When I spoke to a racist group in 2002 it was an innocent mistake. I had no idea who they were. I couldn’t see their faces.”
In June 2015 he wrote, “The Opposite of a Liberal Progressive is a Bigoted Racist that wants the Rich to get Richer at the expense of the 99%…..Republicans are so Stupid….”
He wrote in May 2015, “Congressional Republicans Hate Americans & Should All be Voted Out of Office……..”
3. He Was Charged With Battery & Aiding Damage to a Vehicle in 2006 in Illinois
James T. Hodgkinson was charged with battery and aiding damage to a vehicle in April 2006 in St. Clair County, Illinois, the Washington Post reports. The charges were dismissed and no other details about the incident or his criminal background were immediately available.
Hodgkinson, 66, owns a home inspection business in his home state, the newspaper reports.
According to his Facebook page, Hodgkinson “left” that job in December 2016, though it is not clear if he shut down the company or what the circumstances surrounding that were.
He describes his job as being a “home inspector, Mold Air/Quality Tester.”
4. The Shooter, Armed With a Rifle, Began Firing From Behind Third Base as Congressmen Were on the Field Practicing
The gunman was armed with a rifle, when he opened fire at the Alexandria baseball field, witnesses say. He is described as a white male with a beard.
Just spoke to eyewitness at YMCA who says shooter was middle aged white man, white hair and beard armed with assault rifle @nbcwashington
9:17 AM - 14 Jun 2017
Lawmakers described a chaotic scene. Rep. Mel Brooks told CNN the shooter was near third base when the gunfire began. He said he heard a loud bam, and there were dozens of shots, possibly hundreds, by the end of the incident, which witnesses say lasted 10 to 15 minutes.
Benjamin Childers @ben_childers
Gunman just opened fire on Congressional members playing baseball this morning in Del Ray
6:23 AM - 14 Jun 2017
“I see a rifle, and I see a little bit of a body and then I hear another bam and I realize there’s still an active shooter. At the same time I hear Steve Scalise over at 2nd base scream — he was shot,” Brooks told CNN.
Joseph Miscavige @JoeMiscavige
Active shooter situation during this mornings trip to the Y. Terrifying. Am ok. Sheltered in place & under lockdown.
6:36 AM - 14 Jun 2017
Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, told reporters Scalise dragged himself about 15 yards away from second base into right field after he was shot.
“He was laying motionless out there, but we couldn’t get to him until the shooting had stopped,” Flake said.
A staffer for Rep. Roger Williams was then also shot, in the leg, Flake said.
Officers from the Capitol Police were the first to exchange gunfire with the shooter. Katie Fillus, of Alexandria, told the Washington Post she saw an officer draw her gun on the gunman:
Fillus said a police agent pulled out a gun and tried to shoot back. She was screaming, “ ‘Drop your weapon!’ And he shot her and she fell on the ground.
“She fell on the ground in front of us, and we were all just trying to lay as flat we could. And I belly crawled, dragging through the mud. I got to the car and I ducked under the car and I laid as close as I could under the car to hide from the person. Then the police seemed to come.”
Congressmen at the scene are crediting the two Capitol Police officers who were there as the detail for Scalise, who is the House Majority Whip and has 24-hour protection because he is in the line of presidential succession.
“We were like sitting ducks,” Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, told Fox News. “Without the Capitol Hill police it would have been a massacre.”
Paul told CNN, “When you have no way to defend yourself … the field was essentially a killing field.
“I can tell you that I think with absolute certainty that nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill Police They saved everybody’s life. Incredibly brave and deserve everyone’s praise, because with this guy, who knows how heavily armed he was, but nobody else had a weapon,” Paul said.
“We had nothing but baseball bats to fight back against a rifle with,” Rep. Mo Brooks told CNN. ” And I tell you, those two security details, those two Capitol police officers, they showed incredible bravery — pistols against a rifle — from a 90- to 120-feet distance. As you know, that kind of distance heavily favors the rifle. ”
Alexandria Police responded in about 3 minutes, Police Chief Michael Brown told reporters. The city officers joined the Capitol Police in trying to take down the gunman.
“Two of our officers engaged in gunfire and returned fire,” Brown said.
Just talked to Capitol police, they indicate officers will be ok. Thank God. Hope true for anyone hit.
7:30 AM - 14 Jun 2017
The Capitol Police officers wounded in the shooting are expected to survive.
Rep. Steve Scalise was taken from the scene in a helicopter, while other victims were rushed to hospitals by ambulance.
Scalise’s office said in a statement that the Congressman was undergoing surgery Wednesday morning at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The statement said Scalise spoke to his wife, Jennifer, on the phone, and was in “good spirits” prior to entering surgery.
Update from Majority Whip Steve Scalise's office... "in good spirits and spoke to his wife..."
8:40 AM - 14 Jun 2017
“We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers,” the statement said.
5. The FBI Is Leading the Investigation Along With the ATF, State & Local Police
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Tim Slater said it is an “active investigation,” but the community where the shooting occurred is secure. Slater said the FBI has taken the lead because the shooting involves members of Congress.
The Alexandria Police Department, Virginia state agencies and other federal law enforcement, including ATF and the Capitol Police, are involved in the investigation, Slater said.
APD Chief Michael Brown updated media. 5 transported to local hospitals, including suspect. We will not ID victims or suspect right now.
8:05 AM - 14 Jun 2017
“The suspect is in custody and not a threat,” police said on Twitter. A heavy police presence was at the scene, which is in the 400 block of East Monroe Street.
Police have not released any information about the shooter’s motive.
Investigators were planning to obtain search warrants for a van that was at the scene of the shooting and for Hodgkinson’s Illinois home.
President Donald Trump has issued a statement on the shooting at a GOP Congressional baseball team practice Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia. You can read it below:
The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol
Police, first responders, and all others affected.
Trump also tweeted about the shooting, calling Scalise a “true friend and patriot,” who was “badly injured, but will fully recover.”
Donald J. Trump
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.
7:48 AM - 14 Jun 2017
The shooting is the first involving a member of Congress since then-Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords was attacked in January 2011 at a “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson. Giffords was shot in the head, but survived, while six others were killed and 12 were wounded.
The gunman pleaded guilty in 2012 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Giffords, who has become a leading gun control advocate since the shooting, tweeted on Wednesday, “My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.”