DETROIT (WWJ) – Who is James T. Hodgkinson and why did he open fire at Congressmen on an Alexandria, Virginia baseball field?
According to law enforcement, Hodgkinson — age 66, of Belleville, Illinois — was armed with a high-powered rifle from which he fired multiple shots at Republicans, Wednesday morning, as they were practicing for an upcoming charity game against the Democrats.
CBS News reports Hodgkinson allegedly shot Rep. Steve Scalise and four others, including two Capitol Police officers, before being shot himself and taken into custody. He died later while undergoing surgery at a D.C.-area hospital.
While a motive is not yet known, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Detroit Dan Roberts says an investigation is already underway to find out.
“They’re going to be doing some deep dives into his personal history, doing some search warrants, I’m sure, at his house,” Roberts told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jackie Paige. “Looking at his computer records, his social media, his vehicles, neighbors, friends, relatives — everyone they possibly can to determine the motivation of this shooter.”
As far as social media, a Facebook page attributed to Hodgkinson (although not yet authenticated) shows he had a strong interest in politics, supported Senator Bernie Sanders in his presidential run and was critical of President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
Sanders said later Wednesday he was informed that Hodgkinson volunteered on his presidential campaign. “I am sickened by this despicable act,” the Senator added.
“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.”
Witnesses described the gunman as a middle-aged white man, with Rep. Mo Brooks adding in an interview with CNN that he was “a little bit yon the chubby side.” Reports say he owned a home inspection business but did not renew his licence in 2017.
Court records show that Hodgkinson has a criminal history, including arrests for resisting police and drunken driving in the 1990s. He was also arrested in a battery charge in 2006. [More details]. The Associated Press reports Hodgkinson has a history of anti-GOP activity and was a member of a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party.”
Roberts said they’ll also be investigating any possible links to terrorist groups.
“So if it is a terrorism incident, if this individual has some connection to terrorism, that’s also in the FBI’s lane,” Roberts said. “But it’s also right now, I guess, opened as an assault on a federal officer case which is also a part of the FBI’s jurisdiction as well.”
It’s unknown at this time where Hodgkinson acquired his weapon, which Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop told WWJ was “clearly meant for the job of taking people out.”
“It’s a semi-automatic rifle that has a high-capacity magazine, or what most people refer to as a clip. High-capacity meaning it holds a lot of bullets,” Roberts explained. “It’s a very scary looking weapon, and certainly in this case it sounds like the Capitol Police who were there doing dignitary protection were only armed with handguns.”
“I don’t blame them,” he added. “Typically this would not be considered a high-risk detail when you’re doing a baseball practice at 6 o’clock in the morning.”
Roberts added that this was a different type of active shooting situation.
“I have to tell you that most of the training focuses on office-type settings or school-based settings, based on all the school shootings what we’ve had,” Roberts said. “It’s unusual that you see one out in an open field like a baseball diamond and you really don’t practice a lot for that particular scenario.”
Robert said the ongoing investigation will be a joint effort involving federal, state and local authorities.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.