James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Belleville, Illinois, has been identified as the suspect in the shooting of a Republican congressman and several others at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, early Wednesday morning. He died from injuries suffered at the scene, according a statement by President Trump.
In a televised statement from the White House shortly before noon, Trump praised the “heroic actions” of the Capitol Police at the scene and announced that the suspect was dead.
“Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime, and the assailant has now died from his injuries,” Trump said.
The Washington Post first identified Hodgkinson as the suspect in the shooting of House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, an aide, an officer, and two members of Scalise’s security detail.
In the few hours since the tragedy, law enforcement were trying to piece together a picture of Hodgkinson and if there was any indication in his background that he had targeted members of Congress and staff because of his political beliefs.
- The Washington Post reported that Hodgkinson had been an ardent campaigner for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid last year. Letters written to his local newspaper indicate he was a passionate and longtime critic of income inequality and the tax code.
- In 2006, Hodgkinson was charged with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, though those charges were later dropped.
- Letters written by Hodgkinson were frequently printed in the Belleville News Democrat, a daily newspaper. In a letter printed on March 21, 2010, he sounded off about the existing tax code, saying that the country’s top earners do not pay their fair share in taxes. In that letter, Hodgkinson also touched on the unemployment rate, which he said was the highest since 1985.
- “That is the year Ronald Reagan was president,” Hodgkinson wrote in one published letter. “I don’t ever again want to hear how great a president he was. All he did was give tax breaks to the rich and put the rest of the country (or at least 13.1 percent) out of work. To think the Republican Party can call this man their idol is un-American. It’s all about the money.”
- “I wish John Kerry would have won the 2004 election,” Hodgkinson wrote in another remark published by the paper, in 2008. “I could afford $3.50 for a bottle of catsup; I just can’t afford $3.50 for a gallon of gas.”
- Hodgkinson was often called out by name by critics. In August 2012, one writer called Hodgkinson an “old record.” “Income inequality, the rich need to pay more, life sucks, blah blah blah.” Another critic wrote in a post titled “Typical Letters from the Left” that Hodgkinson’s “Obamamania is showing and it’s out of control.”
- Belleville, which is mostly white, is located in Illinois’ 12th congressional district. The district voted for Trump in the 2016 election, the first time it had gone red in more than 16 years.
- Public records indicate that Hodgkinson, who has a home-inspection business, was a licensed home inspector from 1994 until 1997. He renewed his license in 2003, and it expired in 2016.
- The Belleville News Democrat reported Wednesday that in 2012 Hodgkinson participated in a protest outside the downtown Belleville post office. He declared himself an advocate of the “99 percent” and wanted to draw attention to the way the country’s money and power was concentrated within the top 1 percent.
The local newspaper also reported that Hodgkinson was a member of anti-Republican Facebook groups, including “The Road to Hell Is Paved with Republicans.’ In May, Hodgkinson posted a picture of Trump with a caption “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”