Information is starting to come out about James Hodgkinson, the man behind this morning’s shooting at a congressional baseball field in Virginia. Before opening fire with an assault rifle, he reportedly confirmed with two GOP representatives that the men on the field were Republicans. Hodgkinson hit four people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, before being shot himself. He was taken into custody, and Donald Trump later confirmed he had died from his wounds. Of the four men shot by Hodgkinson, it appears that all will survive.
Information is coming out fast, but at the moment, here’s what we know about Hodgkinson.
James T. Hodgkinson was 66 years old and lived in Belleville, IL, where he owned a home inspection business called JTH Inspections.
Bernie Sanders Support
Hodgkinson identified himself as a progressive, and his Facebook page indicates that he was a Bernie Sanders supporter. The Washington Post reached out to someone who had campaigned with him in Iowa during the primary, and he had this to say about the man he described as “on the really progressive side of things”:
Charles Orear, 50, a restaurant manager from St. Louis, said in an interview Wednesday that he became friendly with James T. Hodgkinson, whom law enforcement officials identified as the shooter, during their work in Iowa on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. Orear said Hodgkinson was a passionate progressive and showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Orear said when told by phone. “I met him on the Bernie trail in Iowa, worked with him in the Quad Cities area.”
Orear described Hodgkinson as a “quiet guy” who was “very mellow, very reserved” when they stayed overnight at a Sanders’s supporter home in Rock Island, Ill., after canvassing for the senator.
Some right-wing pundits are already attempting to make hay of this connection:
Feelings on Trump
Most of Hodgkinson's Facebook posts reference Bernie Sanders or the primary campaign, but he had lately begun to focus on Trump, linking anti-Trump articles and adding his own text. A few examples:
March 22: Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co.
Two days ago, his language became even more pointed:
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
Here is a list of anti-Republican groups Hodgkinson belonged to on Facebook:
The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans”
Donald Trump is not my President”
President Bernie Sanders”
Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump”
Boycott the Republican Party”
Expose Republican Fraud”
Terminate the Republican Party”
Per the Belleville News-Democrat, he took part in political protests as early as 2012:
In 2012, Hodgkinson took part in a protest outside the downtown Belleville post office. He said he was part of a “99%” team drawing attention to the amount of money and political power the top 1 percent of Americans acquired.
It's not short, per the BND:
Hodgkinson has a varied arrest record in St. Clair County, for offenses such as 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.
And from Wapo:
Hodgkinson was charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, according to online records in St. Clair County, Ill. The charges were dismissed, records show.
It's not clear if Hodgkinson knew who he was shooting, but in Jan. 2015 he actually posted an anti-Scalise political cartoon.
He wrote several politically-themed letters to the editor in Belleville, about tax rates, marijuana legalization, and war profiteering, which have been compiled on Twitter:
He has also apparently tweeted seven times, though it’s nothing remarkable.
Undoubtedly, more information will come out as the investigation—headed by the FBI, the ATF, along with state and local police—continues.