Updated: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 – 12:23 PM
(AFP) Republican lawmaker Steve Scalise, one of five people shot by a gunman during early morning baseball practice near Washington on Wednesday, remained in “critical condition” following surgery, the hospital said.
“Rep. Scalise was critically injured and remains in critical condition,” said MedStar Washington Hospital in a statement via Twitter. Earlier in the day his condition had been described as “stable”, and he had spoken by telephone with his wife.
Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 – 12:03 PM(
(AFP) James T. Hodgkinson, the rifle-toting 66-year-old who opened fire on a Republican lawmakers practicing for a baseball game Wednesday, was a fervent fan of leftist Senator Bernie Sanders and disdained President Donald Trump.
He showed no previous signs of violent extremism and his attack shocked people who knew him as “Hodges”, a popular, “laid-back” blue-collar worker in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois.
But he was also “rough around the edges,” according to an acquaintance, and local media reported he had a number of run-ins with local police, including for assaulting friends of his daughter in an 2006 incident.
US media identified Hodgkinson, who died following a shootout with police in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, as the gunman behind the early-morning attack that left five people wounded, including Steve Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.
Stocky, with graying hair and a well-trimmed moustache-goatee combination, Hodgkinson was an ardent supporter of Sanders, the feisty hero of the left who almost defeated Hillary Clinton last year in a tough fight for the Democratic White House nomination.
On his Facebook page he labelled Clinton a “Republican Lite” and signed social media petitions from the liberal Change.org group attacking Trump.
He campaigned to raise taxes on the wealthy, calling himself a democratic socialist. And in April via Twitter he urged Democrats in Congress to fight Trump’s conservative Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Sanders said in a statement that Hodgkinson “apparently” worked as a volunteer for his presidential campaign last year.
“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders said. “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.”
- Blue-collar ‘working man’ -
Hodgkinson’s home town of Belleville, Illinois — across the Mississippi River from the city of St Louis, Missouri — is a former manufacturing hub populated largely by German immigrants.
Hodgkinson attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and through the end of last year worked for JTH Inspections, his Facebook page indicates.
“He was a really nice guy. Laid back, rough around the edges. He was a working man,” said Matthew Jett, who works at the Main St. Cafe in Belleville, where Hodgkinson was a regular.
“He never talked politics with us,” Jett told AFP. “He was pretty popular around here, people knew him. I’m surprised as anybody.”
But he was a strong supporter of progressive politics.
His brother Michael Hodgkinson told the New York Times that he was focused on politics but led a normal life.
“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” he said.
Hodgkinson’s Facebook page was topped with a picture of Sanders. His posts were mainly endorsements of anti-Clinton and anti-Trump petitions, and reposts of commentary and cartoons with similar sentiments.
The Washington Post quoted a friend, St. Louis restaurant manager Charles Orear, as saying Hodgkinson was “very mellow, very reserved” — but passionate about the kind of progressive politics that Sanders represents.
In March he endorsed a petition from left-leaning activist group Change.Org branding Trump a “traitor” who “has destroyed our democracy.”
“It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” the post said.
Hodgkinson’s wife told ABC News that he had been living in Alexandria, Virginia, the location of the shooting, for the past two months, but gave no explanation why.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat newspaper he had several run-ins with police, who were called to his home after neighbors complained over dozens of shots he had fired into nearby trees.
In 2006 he was handcuffed and charged after an incident in which he punched one of his daughter’s friends and threatened another with a shotgun. Eventually the charges were dropped.
Attack on US lawmakers: what we know:
A rifle-toting US man opened fire Wednesday at about two dozen Republican lawmakers and staff holding a baseball practice ahead of a charity game, wounding a top congressman and at least three others.
The shooter — identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, an apparent supporter of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — has since died of his injuries, President Donald Trump announced.
Here’s what we know about the shooting:
- What happened? -
Republican lawmakers were practicing at a baseball field in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia ahead of Thursday night’s annual charity game against their Democratic counterparts when Hodgkinson fired a volley of shots.
Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the party’s number three in the House of Representatives, suffered a hip injury in the early morning melee.
Capitol police who were on security duty returned fire, as did Alexandria police who rushed to the scene. The suspect was apprehended, and the five people wounded were taken to area hospitals.
- Who was wounded? -
* Scalise. He suffered a hip injury and underwent surgery at a Washington hospital. He was expected to recover.
* Zachary Barth, an aide to Representative Roger Williams
* Lobbyist and former congressional staffer Matt Mika, who was reportedly in critical condition with multiple gunshots
* Two Capitol Police officers
- Who was the shooter? -
Hodgkinson, who appears to have been the owner of a home inspection business, was a strong supporter of Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
Sanders said he was “sickened” by the attack.
The shooter hailed from Belleville, Illinois, though his wife told ABC News that he had been living in Alexandria for the past two months.
Hodgkinson’s social media posts displayed strong anti-Trump sentiment.
His brother Michael told The New York Times that “he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff.”
- Political aftermath -
Trump called for national unity in the wake of the shooting, as did House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
All votes in the House of Representatives were cancelled for Wednesday.
The annual Congressional baseball game will go on as planned Thursday night at Nationals Park in the US capital.
© Agence France-Presse
© Agence France-Presse