Virginia shooting suspect was distraught over Donald Trump’s election, brother says

James Hodgkinson, the suspect in the congressional baseball shooting, volunteered for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign and was an outspoken online critic of President Donald Trump.
James T. Hodgkinson in a photo from his Facebook page.
James T. Hodgkinson in a photo from his Facebook page.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) – The man suspected of opening fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team early on Wednesday morning (June 14) was distraught over the election of President Donald Trump and travelled to Washington in recent weeks to protest, his brother said.

The suspect, James Thomas Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, died in a Washington hospital after a shootout with police.

“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, Michael Hodgkinson, said in a telephone interview shortly after he received the news on Wednesday. He added that he was not close to his brother and had not been aware of why he remained in Washington.

“Totally out of the blue,” he added, saying that his brother was engaged in politics but otherwise led a normal life.

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Michael Hodgkinson said his sister had spoken with the shooting suspect’s wife Tuesday. According to his account, the wife said that Hodgkinson had called home to say he was planning to come home because he missed his wife and dogs.

Instead, he is suspected of opening fire shortly after 7am on Wednesday at a baseball field just outside Washington and showering bullets on members of Congress, their staff and the police. Five people were wounded.

Hodgkinson, who goes by Tom, owns a home-inspection business in Belleville, a southern Illinois town of more than 40,000 just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Records show that his inspection licence expired last November and had not been renewed.

Social media accounts that appear to be affiliated with Hodgkinson show a man deeply connected to liberal politics and distrustful of Republican-controlled Washington. And in letters to the editor of his local newspaper, in 2012, he argued assiduously for a range of Democratic positions.

 

Just Tuesday morning, Hodgkinson posted a cartoon on Facebook explaining “How does a bill work?”

“That’s an easy one, Billy,” the cartoon reads. “Corporations write the bill and then bribe congress until it becomes law.”

“That’s Exactly How It Works.....” Hodgkinson wrote.

On Monday, he posted a Yahoo News article about Trump’s most recent Cabinet meeting, in which Cabinet members went around the table and praised the president. He added his own sharp critique to the posting.

Hodgkinson’s Facebook page was filled with references to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who lost the Democratic primary nomination to Hillary Clinton but has remained active in calling for Democrats to endorse more progressive policies.

His Facebook profile picture was an image of Sanders dressed as Uncle Sam.

Sanders said in a statement Wednesday that he was aware Hodgkinson had volunteered for his presidential campaign. And he condemned violence of any type.

“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders wrote. “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

According to the Saint Clair County Clerk’s Office, where Hodgkinson is registered to vote, he has repeatedly voted in Democratic primaries in recent years. There was no party affiliation listed on his voter file.