A gunman wounded at least four people, including a top Republican congressional leader, in a Wednesday morning shooting rampage on a baseball field in Virginia where GOP members of Congress and their staff were practicing for their annual charity baseball game. The suspected shooter was taken into custody after exchanging fire with law enforcement, police said, and later died in a hospital from his injuries, President Donald Trump said.
The suspected shooter was identified as James Hodgkinson, of Illinois, according to the Associated Press, which cited a government official. Federal and local authorities have not officially released the name of the suspect.
Here’s everything you need to know about Hodgkinson:
Who is suspected shooter James Hodgkinson?
Hodgkinson was a 66-year-old was a business owner of Belleville, Ill. who had had at least one previous run in with the law, the Washington Post reported, citing law enforcement officials.
Hodgkinson was upset that Trump won last year’s presidential election, his brother told the New York Times. Hodgkinson had gone to Washington, D.C. in recent weeks to join in on protests against the President. “I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” brother Michael Hodgkinson said, adding that the two did not have a close relationship.
Hodgkinson had worked on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in Iowa, according to the Post, which cited another campaign volunteer who knew Hodgkinson. The acquaintance from the campaign trail, Charles Orear, told the newspaper he thought Hodgkinson was a “quiet guy” who was “very mellow, very reserved.”
Hodgkinson had owned a home inspection business, but state records show his home inspection license expired in November 2016, according to the Post. The newspaper said he faced battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle charges in April 2006 that were later dismissed.
Bill Euille, the former Democratic mayor of Alexandria, Va., told the Post Hodgkinson lived out of his gym bag for the past month and a half. Euille said he spoke to the suspected shooter almost every morning when he’d see Hodgkinson on his laptop in the gym’s lobby “for hours and hours.”
“He was a very friendly person. But what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gum back and in it, he had everything he owned,” Euille told the Post. “He was living out of the gym bag.”
“Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town,” he said.
What was his motive?
A motive is still unclear, and the FBI is investigating the incident. Tim Slater, the FBI special agent in charge of the Washington, D.C. field office, said it’s too soon to say whether the GOP lawmakers were targeted in a deliberate attack. “We’re exploring all angles,” Slater said.
In the last seven years, Hodgkinson has written several letters to his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat. He often slammed the Republican Party and has stated that he supports President Barack Obama. “Let’s vote all Republicans out of Congress, and get this country back on track,” he wrote in 2012.
The Republican baseball team practices every morning at 6:30 a.m. at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va., according to Rep. Roger Williams, who coaches the GOP baseball team. The legislators were warming up for practice about 7 a.m. when gunfire erupted on the field, he said.
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, who witnessed the shooting, told CNN he “never heard the shooter utter a word.”