Steve Scalise shooter James T. Hodgkinson: Staunch Bernie Sanders supporter, letter writer, more
The Advocate staff report
A 66-year-old man has been identified as the suspected gunman after an early-morning shooting that left five people hurt, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
James T. Hodgkinson, of Belleville, Illinois, has been identified by law enforcement after he was taken into custody, according to a report from CBS News.
He later died from his injuries, according to President Donald Trump in an afternoon press conference.
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Hodgkinson’s arrest came after he allegedly opened fire on a group of people practicing ahead of the annual Congressional baseball game Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia.
Scalise (R-Jefferson) was shot in the hip and is out of surgery after suffering non-life-threatening injuries. He was in “good spirits,” according to a statement from the Whip’s office.
Hodgkinson is alleged to have used a M4 rifle as he opened fire toward the field. Witnesses said they heard at least 50 shots, which included Capitol Police and local officers who returned fire.
A man identifying himself as James Hodgkinson was a prolific letter writer to the local newspaper in Belleville, in which he strongly criticized tax rates, condemned Republicans for admiring former President Ronald Reagan and expressed his regret that John Kerry lost the 2004 election.
A Facebook page under the name James T. Hodgkinson, as well as another of James Hodgkinson — both listed as being from Belleville — feature a myriad of anti-Republican and Donald Trump posts, as well as support for former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
One post, from March 22, reads: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
The former page was actively being commented on as of 10 a.m. Hodgkinson was listed as the “former owner” of JTH Inspections and JTH Construction.
Sanders (D-Vermont) acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that he had learned Hodgkinson volunteered on his presidential campaign while denouncing and saying he’s ‘sickened by this despicable act’ in an address to Congress.
“Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society,” Sanders said, “and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
Sanders paid tribute to Capitol Police for their response to the shooting, and said his “hopes and prayers” are with Scalise and others who were wounded.
Hodgkinson, meanwhile, is also a member of several anti-GOP Facebook groups, posting in one called “Terminate The Republican Party,” in which he wrote in July 2016 “The Republican Party is the Taliban of the USA.”
Hodgkinson has an arrest record in St. Clair County, according to a report from the Belleville News-Democrat, for offenses that include 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.
Realtor Charlene Brennan, who works in Belleville, told the BND there was nothing about Hodgkinson that would have pointed to Wednesday’s events.
“From a business standpoint, he did not seem like he is a radical — opinionated but not a radical,” Brennan said to the BND. “He wasn’t obnoxious, he wasn’t problematic. When he did home inspections for me he didn’t rile up the buyers or make ridiculous statements.”
Hodgkinson is a licensed home inspector and for real estate appraisal in Belleville.
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–Staff writers Jeffrey Nowak, John Simerman and Ramon Antonio Vargas compiled this report.