Police officials have identified James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Illinois, as the gunman who opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice early Wednesday morning, shooting House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), as well as several others, multiple news outlets including the Associated Press and Washington Post have reported.
Hodgkinson, identified as a white middle-aged man with white facial hair by members of Congress on the scene, owned a home inspection business in Belleville, Illinois, and was previously charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, the Washington Post first reported. President Donald Trump said Hodgkinson died from his injuries after being gunned down by police at the scene.
The FBI has taken over the investigation, said Tim Slater, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Washington field office. “It’s too early to tell” the motive of the shooter, he said.
There are two Facebook pages bearing Hodgkinson’s name that have been active since 2012, most recently showing support for Bernie Sanders’s presidential run and sharing anti-Trump articles and cartoons and other content from progressive media outlets.
Hodgkinson was politically vocal in his hometown of Belleville. The Belleville News-Democrat, a local newspaper, reported that he had sent multiple letters to the editor calling out against Republican policies, and once advocated for legalizing marijuana. The paper published his letters Wednesday.
He reportedly canvassed for Sanders’s campaign in Iowa, according to the Washington Post, which talked to an acquaintance of his during the campaign. Charles Orear, a restaurant manager from St. Louis who met Hodgkinson in Iowa, described him as a “quiet,” “very mellow, very reserved” guy.
“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” Orear told the Post. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
Hodgkinson opened fire at around 7 am Wednesday morning, attacking Republican members of Congress during an early morning practice for an annual charity baseball game near Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria.
Scalise was shot in the hip, Alexandria police confirmed, but is in stable condition. Five people, including Hodgkinson, were transported to local hospitals, according to Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown. George Washington University Hospital received two victims from the Alexandria shooting, both of whom were in critical condition, according to Susan Griffiths, assistant director of marketing and public relations for the hospital. The hospital would not identify the patients.
Zachary Barth, a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), posted on Facebook that he was among those shot but is “at the hospital and okay.”
Eyewitnesses, including Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), described a harrowing scene on the baseball pitch Wednesday morning, hearing more than 50 gunshots. According to their reports, Capitol Police, which accompany lawmakers in leadership positions — like Scalise — were able to gun down Hodgkinson and tend to people on the scene.
“Had [Capitol Police] not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Paul, who was at the scene, said on MSNBC after the shooting.