James T Hodgkinson, the rifle-toting 66- year old who opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a baseball game Wednesday, was a fervent fan of leftist Senator Bernie Sanders and angered by the policies of President Donald Trump. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, had campaigned for Bernie Sanders in November's presidential election and filled his Facebook page with screeds against Donald Trump and past year against Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who won the nomination but lost the general election to Trump.
Hodgkinson, who shot five people at Republicans' congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning before later dying at a local hospital, had been critical of the Republican party.
After the horrifying event, Hodgkinson's Facebook page was discovered by the press and it's cover photo featured a large photo of Sanders.
"I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign", Sanders said. The assailant, who had nursed grievances against President Donald Trump and the GOP, fought a gun battle with police before he, too, was shot and later died.More news: Death toll rises to 17 in London apartment block fire
Shortly after the shooting, Bernie Sanders, the former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on the Senate floor that the shooter apparently was a volunteer for his campaign past year.
Sanders said he was "sickened by this despicable act" and denounced any use of violence.
Texas Rep. Joe Barton, still in his baseball uniform, told reporters a shooter came out to the practice and opened fire, shooting at Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., who plays third base.
Until recently, he ran a home-inspection business out of his home in Belleville, in the southwestern corner of the state, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, according to Hodgkinson's Facebook page.
Two police officers, a congressional aide and a lobbyist were also shot.More news: The shooting at a GOP baseball practice was an assault on democracy
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican who represents the 13th District, was at the Alexandria ballfield. According to The Washington Post, a friend of Hodgkinson said he was a "passionate progressive and showed no signs of violence or malice toward others". A neighbor told the Belleville News-Demcorat that Hodgkinson has been gone for the past several months and that Hodgkinson's wife had told him that Hodgkinson had gone on a trip. "Quite frankly, I didn't know who it was until I saw his picture this morning on television". "He was just a very calm, rational person, I thought", he said.
"And I said 'There's houses over that way.' But I don't think I got though to him".
The Belleville News-Democrat newspaper posted a photograph of Hodgkinson protesting outside a post office in 2012, wearing sunglasses and a goatee and holding a placard that read "TAX the Rich". Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California both spoke on the floor issuing calls for unity.
Although Hodgkinson had been going to the YMCA in Alexandria every day at 7am, no one had seen him work out, but had not found him suspicious either.
"I don't want anyone trying to be detectives and trying to figure out whether or not they should contact the police", McGuire says.More news: Tightening Cuba restrictions, Trump again chips away at Obama's legacy
He had a criminal record, including a 2006 arrest on battery charges, that were later dismissed and multiple traffic violations.
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