Image: ABC 13
Just a few days ago, a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The gunman was soon identified by the FBI as James T. Hodgkinson, a sixty-six year-old from Illinois.
James T. Hodgkinson was a resident of Belleville, Illinois, and a very staunch Democrat. His Facebook page contained several critical posts of President Donald J. Trump. In one, Donald Trump was described as a “traitor” who “has destroyed our democracy.” The Facebook account’s banner had an image of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a notable candidate in the Democratic primaries of the 2016 presidential election. His profile picture had the American flag and said, “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: We the People.”
Michael Hodgkinson, the shooter’s brother, said in a phone interview to the New York Times, “I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff.”
A man by the name of Charles Orear told The Washington Post that he met Hodgkinson when they worked together in Iowa on Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. He had described Hodgkinson as “very mellow, very reserved” and a “quiet guy.”
He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics.
Former Mayor of Alexandria Bill Euille told the Washington Post he spoke to Hodgkinson almost every morning at the local YMCA which is so close to the baseball field where the shooting occurred that one of the bullets landed in the indoor pool.
He was a very nice person. [H]e sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours. Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town.
Hodgkinson owned a home inspection business in Belleville, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Hodgkinson was a licensed home inspector from 1994 to 1997, and also held a liscense from 2003 to 2016, but it was never renewed.
According to The Belleville News-Democrat:
Hodgkinson has a varied arrest record in St. Clair County, for offenses such as failing to obtain electrical permits, damaging a motor vehicle, resisting a peace officer, eluding police, criminal damage to property, driving under the influence and assorted traffic offenses.
According to The Daily Beast:
In 2006, he was arrested for domestic battery and discharge of a firearm after he punched a man’s girlfriend “in the face with a closed fist,” according to a police report reviewed by The Daily Beast. When the man walked outside of the residence, Hodgkinson aimed a shotgun at him and later fired one round.
Hodgkinson was also “observed throwing” an unidentified minor “around the bedroom,” the police report said. Police identified the girl as his daughter. After the girl broke free, Hodgkinson followed and “started hitting her arms, pulling her hair, and started grabbing her off the bed.”
When Hodgkinson’s girlfriend tried to leave in a vehicle, he reached inside and “turned off the ignition,” the report said. “James then pulled out a possible pocket knife and cut [her] seatbelt.”
The charges were dismissed, according to court records.
James T. Hodgkinson was a prolific writer who often submitted letters to his local newspaper for more than a decade.
Some letters to the editor James Hodgkinson wrote to the Belleville News-Democrat from 2008-2011 pic.twitter.com/HvOUzKx7cU
— Emily Atkin (@emorwee) June 14, 2017
After learning that Hodgkinson had volunteered on the Sanders campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders publicly detested his actions and any acts of violance.
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. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.