WASHINGTON — A 66-year-old Illinois man has been identified as the suspect in the shooting of a congressional baseball practice Wednesday, injuring at least one member of the House of Representatives.
James T. Hodgkinson allegedly opened fire at a field in Alexandria, Virginia, several law enforcement sources told NBC News. More than a dozen GOP lawmakers were there with staff.
The shooter then got into a gunfight with police, and was shot, officials said. The attacker later died, President Donald Trump said. The president paid tribute to the Capitol Police officers who likely saved lives in the face of a “brutal assault.”
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement he’d been told the shooter had “apparently volunteered” on his 2016 presidential campaign.
“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.”
The law enforcement officials said the shooter was heard asking, “Are these the Republicans or the Democrats?” That has raised questions about the gunman’s political motivations. But officials at the scene said that piece of the investigation remains unclear.
Hodgkinson, a licensed home inspector who ran his business out of his Illinois home, has a history of arrests and was charged in 2006 with assaulting his girlfriend, according to public records. At the time, police recovered a pocket knife, hair they say was pulled out of his girlfriend’s head, and a 12-gauge shotgun at the scene of the alleged attack. The case was later dismissed, according to public records.
Police also responded to reports of gunshots at his Belleville home in late March, according to a police report. Callers to 911 reported hearing 50 shots. Police said they found Hodgkinson with a weapon in his possession and a valid Illinois firearms license. They told Hodgkinson not to fire his weapon in that area as there were homes nearby.
Other law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News that at this point there’s no indication that the shooter had ties to international terrorism.
Witnesses said the gunman opened fire with a rifle from the third base side of the diamond.
Two firearms, a rifle and a handgun, were recovered from the scene, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.
The shooting also wounded two members of a dignitary protection unit of the U.S. Capitol Police.
The two officers were injured and are in good condition, officials said. The other reported victims, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House’s majority whip, a congressional staffer and a lobbyist with Tyson Foods, were all expected to survive.