An anti-Trump, Republican-hating Bernie Sanders supporter 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. He was shot by police at the scene and later died at a local hospital, President Donald Trump said, Heavy reports.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, was 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.
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. The victims are all 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 post will be updated as more information is made available. Here is what we know so far:
1. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Campaign Volunteer, Wrote on Facebook, ‘Trump is a Traitor … 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 was 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.
I'm here at the home of James T Hodgkinson, who is in custody in connection with a shooting at a congressional baseball game practice pic.twitter.com/8ILm1t9Y2a
— Kelsey Landis (@kelseylandis) June 14, 2017
Looks like authorities have showed up. Hodgkinson is reportedly dead. pic.twitter.com/nRrQHeWwGe
— Kelsey Landis (@kelseylandis) June 14, 2017
Hodgkinson was married, according to KMOV-TV. He also has a daughter and grandchildren, according to his wife’s Facebook page.
I just stopped by James Hodgkinson's listed business address. His wife apparently still leaves there. Neighbors say she's at work. @KMOV
— Justin Andrews (@Justin_EAndrews) June 14, 2017
He was a prolific Facebook user, with two pages, including several political posts, expressing anger in recent weeks with the Trump administration and over several years with Republican politicians. He also expressed support for Bernie Sanders and progressive politics, and hatred for Hillary Clinton.
On March 22 he wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
On a second Facebook page in his name, Hodgkinson wrote two days ago, “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.”
On June 12, he wrote, “Make America Great Again, Resign!,” along with a meme of Trump with the words, “All in all it’s just another prick in the wall.” He also wrote, “Trump is Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason” and “Trump is a Mean, Disgusting Person.”
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 was 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.
CNN has obtained the drivers license of the alleged shooter James Hodgkinson pic.twitter.com/HInJsxoNaL
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) June 14, 2017
“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am 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. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values. My hopes and prayers are that Representative Scalise, congressional staff and the Capitol Police Officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery. I also want to thank the Capitol Police for their heroic actions to prevent further harm.”
Sanders also tweeted 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.”
Some letters to the editor James Hodgkinson wrote to the Belleville News-Democrat from 2008-2011 pic.twitter.com/HvOUzKx7cU
— Emily Atkin (@emorwee) June 14, 2017
Hodgkisnon wrote several letters to the local newspaper, which you can see above.
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……..”
James T. Hodgkinson a member of this Facebook group pic.twitter.com/EIzQtPIRW0
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 14, 2017
Hodgkinson was also the member of Facebook groups titled, “Terminate the Republican Party” and “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans.” Other groups include, “Boycott the Republican Party,” “Expose Republican Fraud,” Donald Trump is not my president,” and “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump.”
He recently criticized Karen Handel, the Republican candidate for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District for not supporting a livable wage in a Facebook post on June 8:
3. He Was Accused of Pulling Hair Out of His Girlfriend’s Head in 2006, but Battery Charges Were Dropped
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. According to NBC News, Hodgkinson pulled hair out of his girlfriend’s head during the incident. Police seized a pocket knife and a 12-gauge shotgun at the scene.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, his record also included charges for failing to obtain electrical permits, damaging a motor vehicle, resisting a police officer, eluding police, critical damage to property, driving under the influence and traffic offenses.
Most of those charges were violations or petty offenses.
Police went to Hodgkinson’s Illinois home in March 2017 for a report of shots fired, NBC News reports. 911 callers reporting hearing 50 shots.
According to police, Hodgkinson was found with a weapon and a valid Illinois firearms license. The officers told Hodgkinson not to fire his weapon near his home because other residences were nearby. He was not arrested in that incident.
4. His Wife Says He Had Been Living in Alexandria for 2 Months & Records Show He Did Not Renew His Business License
Hodgkinson, 66, owned 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 described his job as being a “home inspector, Mold Air/Quality Tester.”
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Hodgkinson was a licensed home inspector from 1994 to 1997, when it expired. He held the same license again from 2003 to 2016, when it was not renewed.
His wife told ABC News that he had been living in Alexandria, Virginia, for about two months.
5. 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. A handgun was also recovered at the scene.
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.
Gunman just opened fire on Congressional members playing baseball this morning in Del Ray pic.twitter.com/KgF3DXlyRv
— Benjamin Childers (@ben_childers) June 14, 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.
Active shooter situation during this mornings trip to the Y. Terrifying. Am ok. Sheltered in place & under lockdown. pic.twitter.com/iJs6fZpjiK
— Joseph Miscavige (@JoeMiscavige) June 14, 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.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) June 14, 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…" pic.twitter.com/UfNDq6zaJ4
— Elizabeth Crisp (@elizabethcrisp) June 14, 2017
“We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers,” the statement said.
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. pic.twitter.com/pPYlqEjACM
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) June 14, 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.
He later issued a televised statement to the country, which you can read below:
As you all know, shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning, a gunman opened fire on members of Congress and their staffs as they were practicing for tomorrow’s annual charity baseball game.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime, and the assailant has now died from his injuries. The FBI is leading the investigation and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
Congressman Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership, was shot and badly wounded, and is now in stable condition at the hospital, along with two very courageous Capitol Police officers. At least two others were also wounded.
Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault.
Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims.
Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend. He’s a patriot and he’s a fighter. He will recover from this assault. And, Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world. America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting.
I spoke with Steve’s wife, Jennifer, and I pledged to her our full and absolute support — anything she needs. We are with her and with the entire Scalise family.
I have also spoken with Chief Matthew Verderosa — he’s doing a fantastic job — of the Capitol Police to express our sympathies for his wounded officers and to express my admiration for their courage. Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.
We also commend the brave first responders from Alexandria Police, Fire and Rescue who rushed to the scene. Everyone on that field is a public servant — our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress who represent our people.
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.
We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.
Please take a moment today to cherish those you love, and always remember those who serve and keep us safe. God bless them all, God bless you, and God Bless America.
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.”