A few minutes ago, President Trump announced that James T. Hodgkinson, the man who shot up a GOP Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, sending five people to the hospital earlier this morning, died of wounds sustained when security services stopped his attack with hot lead and cold steel. We’re still learning more about the attack, but the social media presence of the 66 year old Illinois resident makes clear his political leanings: Hodgkinson was a Democratic Socialist, and a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter who campaigned for the Vermont Senator.
As late as August 2016, this person was posting his support for the failed Presidential Candidate. “I want Bernie to Win the White House,” he said. “Bernie is a Progressive, while Hillary is Republican Lite.” He had the most extreme contempt for President Trump, saying on March 22, 2017: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” On June 12, he was even more angry: “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.”
Hodgkinson’s wife told ABC News that her (perhaps estranged?) spouse had been living in Alexandria, Virginia for the past two months.
Charles Orear, a restaurant manager from St. Louis who was friendly with the attacker, told the Washington Post that he was surprised by the news.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Orear said when told by phone. “I met him on the Bernie trail in Iowa, worked with him in the Quad Cities area.”
Orear described Hodgkinson as a “quiet guy” who was “very mellow, very reserved” when they stayed overnight at a Sanders’s supporter home in Rock Island, Ill., after canvassing for the senator.
“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” he said. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
The Post reached out to Orear after seeing that he liked one of Hodgkinson’s Facebook posts.
At a press conference earlier today, FBI Special Agent Tim Slater advised that they are investigating the situation and that they hadn’t ruled out any motives yet, including terrorism.
Most times when politicians or law enforcement officials speak of terrorism, they mean Islamic terrorism. If this is a case of terrorism inspired by #TheResistance, a person looking to attack conservatives because of their political beliefs, then this may be a terrorist attack from a slightly different vector than what we’ve seen recently.
UPDATE: Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) denounced the attack in no uncertain terms:
I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice was someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. 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 through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.
My hopes and prayers are that Representative [Scalise], congressional staff and the Capitol Police Officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery. I also want to thank the Capitol Police for their heroic actions to prevent further harm.