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‘Loner’ who shot congressman in Alexandria was living in van

The gunman who wounded a top Republican congressman and several others during an early morning baseball practice had apparently been living out a white cargo van for months and was frequently seen working on a computer at a nearby YMCA, where he kept mostly to himself.

James T. Hodgkinson shot House Rep. Steve Scalise on Wednesday before he was fatally shot by police who had been guarding the House majority whip on the Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field, officials said.

Authorities believe the 66-year-old had been living out of a van in northern Virginia since March after leaving his southern Illinois home. The man expressed grievances online about President Donald Trump and Republicans, but authorities said they’re still working to determine a motive.

Hodgkinson was spotted regularly over the past several weeks at the YMCA next to the site of the shooting, sitting with a computer in the lobby or at a table in an exercise area that looked out onto the baseball field.

Former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, who chatted with Hodgkinson at the gym, said he assumed the man was homeless because he wore pretty much the same outfit every day and carried a bag full of extra clothes. Hodgkinson rarely joined in the political discussions often set off by the television in the room and never showed any signs that he was troubled, Euille said.

“I never saw him get mad when people were talking good, bad or ugly about any of the political parties,” Euille told The Associated Press. “He was just a very calm, rational person, I thought,” he said.

Stephen Brennwald, another YMCA member, said he never saw Hodgkinson talk to anyone and figured the man was a “loner.” Brennwald thought it was odd he never saw Hodgkinson exercise or wear workout clothes and considered asking a staffer about him but never did, he said.

“There’s just no way that I would have guessed that this guy would be shooting at law enforcement and a congressman,” said Brennwald, an attorney.

Hodgkinson, who was armed with a handgun and a rifle, died from multiple gunshot wounds to his torso, the FBI said. Federal investigators are working to trace his weapons to find out where they were purchased and other details about their history.

Texas Rep. Roger Williams said one of his aides, Zack Barth, was shot but was doing well and expected to recover fully. Two Capitol Police officers sustained relatively minor injuries. A former congressional aide was hospitalized.

The FBI said authorities are speaking with people who knew Hodgkinson or who may have encountered him. FBI agent Tim Slater said the FBI needs the public’s help in piecing together Hodgkinson’s whereabouts and activities while he was in Alexandria.

“We’re just not sure at this time” how he spent his time, he said.

Kristina Scrimshaw, a bartender at the Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant a few blocks from the shooting scene, said Hodgkinson had become something of a regular in recent weeks. He always drank Budweiser from a can and drank alone, barely speaking to anyone, including the bartenders.

“I didn’t like him from the beginning,” she said. “Nothing I can really put my finger on, but he was just not a pleasant person.”

The gunman’s brother told The New York Times that the man was upset about Trump’s election and recently went to Washington to protest, but Michael Hodgkinson said he didn’t know why the man stayed in the area.

“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” the shooter’s brother told the newspaper.

Until recently, Hodgkinson ran a home-inspection business out of his house in southern Illinois.

His Facebook page shows he was a fan of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who last year made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders acknowledged Wednesday that Hodgkinson had apparently been among many volunteers on his 2016 campaign.

A search of online newspapers shows that Hodgkinson frequently wrote letters to his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, which published nearly two dozen of them between 2010 and 2012. Many included complaints about the same theme: income inequality.

Hodgkinson also had arrests in his background for a series of minor offenses and at least one more serious matter. Court records show that his legal trouble started in the 1990s with arrests for resisting police and drunken driving.

In 2006, he was arrested on a battery charge after allegedly punching a woman in the face, then striking her boyfriend in the head with the wooden stock of a 12-gauge shotgun before firing a round at the man, according to a sheriff’s department report.

While trying to drive away from that confrontation, the report said, Hodgkinson used a pocket knife to cut a seat belt. The charges were dismissed later that year, according to the court clerk.

Though no other legal problems are listed in St. Clair County, which includes Belleville, since 2011, Hodgkinson did come to the attention of local law enforcement as recently as last spring.

On March 24, Bill Schaumleffel recalled hearing shots being fired outside his house, which stands about 500 feet behind Hodgkinson’s home. When he went outside, he saw Hodgkinson shooting a rifle into a cornfield. He was squeezing off five or six rounds at a time, according to the report of the incident, and fired about 50 shots in all.

“I yelled, ‘Quit shooting toward the houses,’” Schaumleffel said.

When Hodgkinson refused to stop, Schaumleffel called the sheriff’s department.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said Wednesday that Hodgkinson showed the deputy all required firearms licenses and documentation for the high-powered hunting rifle, which he said he was simply using for target practice.

The deputy cautioned Hodgkinson about shooting around homes, given that the rounds can travel up to a mile. No charges were filed.


Richer reported from Richmond, Virginia. Sarah Rankin in Richmond; Matt Barakat in Alexandria, Virginia; Don Babwin in Chicago; John O’Connor in Springfield, Illinois; Jim Suhr in Kansas City, Missouri; Jake Pearson in Washington and Associated Press Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed to this report.


Comments


most on left were horrified & disgusted by alexandria shootings.
in contrast, many on right commented to > five sites they are delighted that muslims were killed/run over in london
&
crickets from prez to victims of london anti-muslim terrorism


More violence from the party of tolerance and inclusion.


Disheartening though not surprising to see the usual suspects here all deciding this is somehow the fault of the Democratic Party and liberals in general.

I think there are psychotic people supporting positions across the political spectrum.

Trying to lay the blame on anyone other than the shooter says more about the person making the accusation than it does about anything else.


Someone call 911 because “NotaPajamaBoy” is coming in HOTT with his take on the situation.

Enlightening stuff my man. You’ve really managed to cram a whole lot of nonsense into one sentence. Impressive. I can’t wait to never hear from you again.


The only people dividing this country is the left.


(continued)

The assassination list found on James Hodgkinson’s body also included the names of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith are also on the list. All six congressmen on the list are members of the House Freedom Caucus, which contains the lower chamber’s most conservative members. The FBI has contacted the congressmen to inform them of their inclusion on the list.


Fake headline from the paper. It should read “Liberal” and not
“Loser.”  Maybe “Madow Fan.”


Loudoun4Trump: “leftists in Baltimore and Chicago bang that amount out in month”

I actually provided a citation for my claim but it appears that LTM no longer allows links in comments.

I’m not “trying to shut down an opposing view,” I’m trying to bring facts into the discussion. You, however, are just making unfounded assertions. “Leftists” are killing people by the thousands each year? I’m gonna need a source for that.


Hodgkinson had an assassination list in his pocket that was recovered by the FBI, all Republicans. The list included: Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, and others.

So this was not a random act. It was a premeditated political assassination, which could easily have been a mass political assassination had Rep. Scalise decided for any reason to not show up Wednesday morning, since he was the only one with a security detail.  There would have been no one to stop this if the two security officers had not been there.

Rep. Scalise is still in critical condition and will need more surgery. According to Dr. Jack Sava, the director of trauma at MedStar Washington Hospital, “it took a number of units of transfused blood to keep Scalise alive, as the transpelvic gunshot wound he sustained penetrated bones, internal organs and blood vessels. He said of the wound, “there are hundreds of fragments and usually there’s more risk involved” to remove all of them from the congressman.”

“hundreds of fragments”

Keep in mind that Scalise lay bleeding on the field for circa ten minutes before anyone could get to him. It’s a miracle he’s alive.


165 days, 154 mass shootings - 2017
ask congress why they voted for easier access to guns for mentally unstable or to give terrorists deadly weapons instead of no fly, no buy.


Equity you are right on point! You said it all. Trump is a disaster.  This country is divided and will stay that way.  Civil and Human rights have been set back 50 years. Very sad.


Speaking of deflection, now comes the press with articles that this was a crazy homeless guy instead of a Democratic volunteer.

The thug problem has long been an underpinning of the Democratic Party and Democrats have not put effort into tamping down the violent extremists in their midst.

Democrats want to stir the pot and toy with peoples emotions for political gain but are then “shocked” when it gets out of control.

You reap what you sow.  You sow anger, you get violence.  It isn’t complicated.


I love seeing people attacking the right while defending the left and vice versa. The argument of but he did it first is so childish that you end up defending a crazy person for your political beliefs.


Wow Johnny 106 over 15 years…leftists in Baltimore and Chicago bang that amount out in month…and silly, another liberal trying to shut down an opposing view - very typical…when Obama said if they bring a knife to a fight, bring a gun…he wasn’t kidding and the lemmings have heard the call to resist.


What happened was awful and I pray that all involved are able to heal with time.  @Loudoun4Trump, stop being a troll.


This is all because the right and their love of arming everybody - mentally stable or not.  Sad!


Right-wing extremists killed 106 people in the US between 2001 and 2016 but sure, leftists are the violent ones.


Was it a van down by the river?


hate crimes escalate in first month after election - racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-immigrant sentiment

1064 incidents, 13 debunked
26 against trump supporters
1,025 against other groups or individuals

blaming bernie for congressional baseball shooting by man w/ record of violence against women - deflection from

nooses hung near schools, anti-semitic signs, talk of lynchings, anti-gay slurs, attacks on women wearing hijabs, people hit with umbrellas, pride flags burned, misogynist punches woman, racist graffiti, racial slurs, stalking people in cars, attack special needs aide, montana legislator body-slammed reporter, etc.

congress voted to give terrorists on no-fly lists & mentally impaired more deadly weapons, not less

to accuse others of “political rhetorical terrorism,” ... is nothing more than a political ploy itself — an attempt to use a tragedy to silence opponents. vox


OMG….L4T. Give it a rest bro. Folks, L4T is what happens to your brain when you get too much fox news and breitbart.

I didn’t know how bad the SJW on the right were until i started reading the LTM comments section. So many triggered snowflakes in this echo chamber turns your brain into mush. Put down the computer, have a beer, and stop typing nonsense on the internet. No one cares what you think.


The angry and violent left is at it again - shots fired at truck with make America great again flag today, trump supporters harassed at starbux, on and on…the left are full of very destructive and angry people that think they are smarter than everyone else…very sad group of people…Love Trumps Hate…

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