Gunman in Virginia park shooting identified as Illinois man

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The gunman in the Virginia park shooting that wounded at least six people has been identified as James Hodgkinson.

Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist and a member of the Capitol police force were shot Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, during Republicans' early-morning practice ahead of a charity baseball game.

Hodgkinson died following a gun battle with police, authorities said.

66-year-old Hodgkinson had been staying in Virginia since earlier this year, but was a longtime resident of Belleville, Illinois.

He started his own company, JTH Inspections, in 1994 and conducted home inspections and mold/air-quality testing.

But he quit that job on New Year's Eve last year, according to one of his two Facebook profiles. Illinois state records show that he dissolved his company on January 10.

His politics
Hodgkinson's online presence was largely defined by his politics. For example, his public Facebook posts date back to 2012 and are nearly all about his support for liberal politics. He was passionate about tax hikes on the rich and universal health care.

In the past year, most of his Facebook posts consisted of signed petitions on Change.org with titles such as: "Bernie -- please run no matter what;" "Hillary Rodham Clinton should concede the nomination to Bernie Sanders;" and "Healthcare for all Americans."

In one public post on May 24, he signed a petition to "Stop the NEXUS Pipeline" in Michigan and Ohio. After Hodgkinson's Facebook profiles were discovered by news reporters, they were updated to prevent public access.

Hodgkinson belonged to a number of anti-GOP organizations, including one called “Terminate the Republican Party.”

It is known Hodgkinson was a supporter of 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders but the chairman of Sanders’ Illinois campaign says they have never heard of him. The chairman insists if Hodgkinson did volunteered for Bernie Sanders, it was not in Illinois.

Past run-ins with police

 

A police report in Illinois also details an incident in 2006 with Hodgkinson's daughter and her friends -- one that involved a gun. When Hodgkinson's daughter was at a female friend's home, he and his wife allegedly tried to take her away from there.

The report says Hodgkinson resorted to dragging his daughter out of her friend's car, slashing her seatbelt, and punching his daughter's friend in the face.

The young woman's boyfriend later confronted Hodgkinson, and Hodgkinson pulled out his shotgun, hit the younger man in the face with the wooden stock of the gun, then fired a single shot that missed, according to police. Hodgkinson was charged with two counts of battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm, criminal damage to a motor vehicle and two counts of domestic battery. None of the three victims showed up in court, so the case was dismissed later that year.

Another, more recent incident, occurred three months ago. Deputies with the St. Clair Sheriff's Office were called when locals heard "shots fired" in a residential neighborhood, according to police records. Deputies found Hodgkinson shooting a hunting rifle. But because he had properly registered himself as a firearms owner with the state of Illinois, deputies merely advised him to shoot safely.

"Unacceptable behavior"
For a time, Hodgkinson worked as an independent subcontractor doing lead paint removal for the St. Clair County's housing rehabilitation and weatherization program, according to county board chairman Mark Kern.

But he was fired as an independent contractor in 2003 from the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department for "unacceptable behavior," Kern said. He declined to elaborate on the incident.

Hodgkinson came back in 2012 and sought paperwork to be reinstated as an independent contractor but he never returned the paperwork.

"There were enough employees that were still there that remembered him. The situation still stood from '03 and he would not have been allowed back into the program," Kern said.

His views on Scalise
On Facebook in 2015, Hodgkinson made at least one comment about the Republican congressman he is accused of eventually attacking in person.
"Here's a Republican that should Lose His Job, but they Gave Him a Raise," Hodgkinson said of Scalise, pointing to a cartoon about the congressman.
The cartoon -- which featured Scalise addressing a racist crowd of members of the Klu Klux Klan -- referenced how Scalise had been caught speaking to a white supremacist group more than a decade earlier when he was a state legislator in Louisiana.