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Offender Identified - The Shooter At GOP Baseball Practice Volunteered For Sanders Campaign

The man who opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game Wednesday morning apparently was a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Various news outlets reported that James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, volunteered for the Sanders campaign in Iowa during the 2016 presidential race. Police gunned down the man, who died later in the day, to stop his rampage at a ballfield in Alexandria, Virginia. Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third-ranking GOP member of the House, required surgery after he was shot in the hip. Two Capitol Police officers and a congressional staffer also were treated for gunshot wounds. The lawmakers were practicing for the annual baseball game between Republicans and Democrats, a fundraiser that was scheduled for Thursday.

The Hill predicted that the incident “will add to the discussion over whether the nation’s fierce, polarized political climate was an undercurrent to the shootings.” Americans on the left and right have become increasingly divided in recent years, sparking a number of violent acts. The volatile climate was frequently on display at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, where his supporters clashed with protesters.

Sanders, the independent senator who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, read a statement on the Senate floor to disavow Hodgkinson. “I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” the Vermont lawmaker said. “I am sickened by this despicable act.”

He continued: “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. 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.”

The Washington Post reported that Hodgkinson’s criminal record features an April 2006 arrest for alleged battery and “aiding damage to a motor vehicle” in Illinois. Prosecutors dropped the charges against the suspect, who owned a home-inspection firm with an expired business license. Charles Orear, who said he worked with Hodgkinson on the Sanders campaign, told the Post that his fellow volunteer was a “quiet guy … very mellow, very reserved.” Hodgkinson made two minor financial contributions to the senator’s campaign, according to the newspaper.

ABC News reported that the FBI announced it was “actively investigating Hodgkinson, to include his associates, whereabouts, social media impressions and potential motivations.” The suspect has had a number of brushes with the law. Sheriff’s officers showed up at his house in March to investigate gunshot reports. Hodgkinson allegedly fired 50 rounds, but was not arrested because he had a firearms-owner identification card.

In 2006, Hodgkinson faced charges of domestic battery and unlawful discharge of a shotgun, though a judge dismissed the case. Law-enforcement officers in St. Clair, Illinois cited the man for various traffic violations and other minor crimes multiple times between 1989 and 2011. Authorities dropped all the cases.

Source: The Hill
Photo: ABC News Screenshot

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