What We Know So Far About The GOP Baseball Practice Shooting Suspect

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More and more details are trickling out about James T. Hodgkinson, the man who opened fire on congressional Republicans’ baseball practice early Wednesday morning in Virginia, injuring several people including a member of House leadership.

The FBI confirmed late Wednesday that the 66-year-old Belleville, Illinois resident was the shooter, and that he died of injuries sustained while exchanging gunfire with police officers.

Hodgkinson was licensed to carry a firearm in Illinois, according to MSNBC. He also had a previous criminal history that included assault, according to police and court records.

And he appears to have been a fierce Trump critic and ardent supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), according to social media accounts that appear to belong to Hodgkinson.

The FBI said it is actively investigating Hodgkinson’s “associates, whereabouts, social media impressions, and potential motivations.”

Hodgkinson had recently moved to the Alexandria, Virginia area, close to the baseball field were the shooting occurred. The city’s former mayor, Bill Euille, told the Washington Post that he began running into Hodgkinson daily at the local YMCA around “a month and a half ago,” where they would exchange small talk. Hodgkinson told Euille that he was unemployed and looking for work and the former mayor said he appeared to be “living out of the gym bag.”

Here’s everything we know about Hodgkinson so far:

He was on the “really progressive side”

St. Louis resident Charles Orear, 60, told the Washington Post that he met Hodgkinson, who he described as a friend, while volunteering on Sanders’ presidential campaign. In Orear’s account, Hodgkinson was a “quiet guy” who was on the “really progressive side of things.”

“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” Orear told the Post, expressing shock at news of the shooting.

“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” the suspect’s brother, Michael Hodgkinson, told the New York Times, adding that the shooting struck him as “totally out of the blue.”

Sanders said in a statement from the Senate floor that he was “sickened” by the suspected gunman’s actions and condemns the shooting in “the strongest possible terms.”

In video posted to Twitter by a reporter for local Chicago station WGN-TV, Hodgkinson can be heard lamenting the economic strain experienced by many Americans during a 2011 Occupy Wall Street event in St. Louis.

“The 99 percent are getting pushed around and the 1 percent are just not giving a damn, so we’ve got to speak up for the whole country,” he said in the short interview clip.

A very anti-Trump, pro-Sanders social media presence

Social media accounts that appear to belong to Hodgkinson and a home inspection business that he reportedly ran, JTH Inspections, are full of posts promoting Sanders while criticizing Trump and GOP policies. The FBI was investigating those social media accounts, according to CNN.

One Facebook post from March read, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

He appeared to be a member of Facebook groups including “Terminate the Republican Party” and “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump.”

Several of the posts that appear to have been written by Hodgkinson also are critical of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is described in one as a “Republican in a Democratic Pant Suit.”

A Twitter account under the handle JTH Inspections showed just four tweets, three of which also referenced either Trump or Sanders.

A prolific letter-to-the-editor writer

The Belleville News-Democrat, a newspaper in Hodgkinson’s hometown, reported that he sent their editor a series of letters criticizing GOP policies. The nine letters, all of which are dated 2012, call for the United States to raise taxes on the rich and rail against deepening income inequality.

“I have never said ‘life sucks,’ only the policies of the Republicans,” Hodgkinson wrote in one Aug. 28, 2012 missive.

Hodgkinson blamed former President George W. Bush for “ruining our economy” and urged Illinois voters to support former President Barack Obama in the presidential election to “get this country back on track.” He was also critical of Fox News and the network’s former anchor Bill O’Reilly, who he accused of promoting biased news.

A history of violent behavior

Hodgkinson apparently had a history of violent behavior. In April 2006 he was arrested on two counts of battery and unlawful damage to a motor vehicle, according to a St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by HuffPost.

According to the partially-redacted report, Hodgkinson was attempting to pick up his daughter from an acquaintance’s home and “became violent” when she refused to depart with him. He “grabbed [her] by the hair and pulled her off the floor,” according to the report. Hodgkins also allegedly punched a woman who was at the home “with a closed fist” and aimed a shotgun at that woman’s boyfriend’s “face” when he attempted to intervene, according to the report.

The report states Hodgkinson was arrested at the scene, where police recovered a pocket knife, 12-gauge shotgun and clumps of hair pulled from a woman’s head. The case was later dismissed, court records show.

Clarification: This story originally cited reporting from NBC News that the woman Hodgkinson allegedly assaulted in 2006 was his own girlfriend. NBC has since updated its story to note that “the nature of Hodgkinson’s relationship with the victim is not clear.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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