The Man Who Attacked GOP Congress Members

James Hodgkinson's history of violence, opposition to Trump and Republicans, and support for Sanders

By Liberty McArtor Published on June 14, 2017

The man who shot and wounded five people at a Congressional baseball practice early Wednesday has died. President Donald Trump delivered the news in a televised statement Wednesday morning.

The shooter was identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, a white Belleville, Ill., resident. Around 7:00 a.m. local time Wednesday, he opened fire on Republican members of Congress and their staff. The group was in Alexandria, Va., to practice before the annual Congressional baseball game on Thursday. Here’s what’s known about the suspect so far.

May Have Targeted Republicans

Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan left the baseball field before practice ended Wednesday. The two were approached by a man who asked whether those practicing were Democrats or Republicans. Duncan answered Republicans. He and DeSantis then left.

Shortly afterward, they heard of the shooting. When they saw pictures of Hodgkinson, they recognized him as the man they spoke with. “I do believe, and I talked to Jeff as well, we both believe that that was the guy,” DeSantis said on MSNBC.

Volunteered for Bernie Sanders

Facebook accounts that appear to have belonged to Hodgkinson show avid support for Sen. Bernie Sanders, former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. A profile under the name “James T. Hodgkinson” features multiple photos of Sanders.

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Another Facebook account under the name “James Hodgkinson” appears to belong to the same person. Its profile image is an Uncle Sam figure with the likeness of Sanders. Both accounts have been removed or hidden.

The Washington Post contacted Charles Orear of St. Louis. Orear had “liked” some of Hodgkinson’s Facebook posts. He was shocked to hear of Hodgkinson’s actions on Wednesday. They volunteered together on Sanders’ presidential campaign.

“He was more on the really progressive side of things,” Orear told the Post. He described him as “quiet” and “very mellow, very reserved.”

Sanders delivered a statement Wednesday condemning the attack “in the strongest possible terms.” He said, “Real change can only come about through nonviolent action. Anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values.”

Extreme Anti-Trump, Anti-Republican Rhetoric

The Facebook accounts linked to Hodgkinson contain anti-Trump and anti-Republican rhetoric. A March 22 post says “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

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The Daily Caller reported he belonged to a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party.” Other groups he joined included “Expose Republican Fraud” and “Donald Trump is not my president.”

Stream contributor Stephen Herreid compiled screenshots of posts from the “James” Facebook account. They include multiple pro-Sanders, anti-Trump, and anti-Republican sentiments.

Varied Community Record Includes Violence, Activism

The Belleville News-Democrat, Hodgkinson’s local paper, reported that he had been arrested multiple times. His offenses included resisting a peace officer and driving under the influence.

He frequently wrote letters to the editor offering leftist opinions on topics such as taxes and legalizing marijuana. The News-Democrat is publishing his past letters today.

The Daily Beast reported that he had a history of violence. He reportedly punched a woman and later aimed a shotgun at her boyfriend, eventually firing but not hitting him. He also beat his daughter and hit a woman’s dog.

According to the Beast, Hodgkinson’s neighbors knew he opposed Trump and supported Sanders, but hadn’t seen him recently. One said that in late March Hodgkinson was outside firing a rifle across his field into the trees, until a policeman told him to stop.

He was reportedly unemployed.

Eye witnesses of the shooting told the Associated Press that Hodgkinson carried a long rifle. The FBI is currently leading the investigating into the shooting.

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