Suspect identified in Scalise shooting; Update: Asked whether Republicans were practicing; Update: Sanders condemns shooter
So says WaPo:
The shooter at the GOP congressional baseball practice this morning is James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., according to law enforcement officials. Hodgkinson, 66, owns a home inspection business. His home inspection license expired in November 2016 and was not renewed, state records show.
The ritual post-shooting scouring of social media to find a motive has begun. There is in fact a Facebook page for a James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, IL who describes himself as a former owner of JTH Inspections. (The page has posts dating back months. It wasn’t created by a hoaxster within the last hour). There’s no proof yet that Hodgkinson the shooter is the Hodgkinson that owns that Facebook page, but that would be some coincidence if it isn’t. Posts like this are going to be looked at very closely today:
There’s loads of Berniebro stuff and other progressive meme-age there. WaPo interviewed a friend of Hodgkinson the shooter and discovered that he was in fact a loud and proud Bernie fan:
Charles Orear, 50, a restaurant manager from St. Louis, said in an interview Wednesday that he became friendly with James T. Hodgkinson, whom law enforcement officials identified as the shooter, during their work in Iowa on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. Orear said Hodgkinson was a passionate progressive and showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.
“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.”
“He was more on the really progressive side of things,” said Orear. It’s going to be a long day for the “don’t blame an entire group for the worst actions of one deranged person” segment of the public.
Did two Republican congressmen have a run-in with Hodgkinson before he opened fire? Via Alan Cole, Jazz flagged this in the live thread but it’s worth another mention. Reps. Jeff Duncan and Ron DeSantis were in their car, ready to leave practice early, when a guy walked up to them and asked if it was Republicans or Democrats out there practicing. DeSantis found that unusual, and even more unusual when they heard a few minutes later that shots had been fired. A brief clip:
He doesn’t describe the man — but according to RCP reporter Rebecca Berg, Duncan did:
DeSantis did note in the clip that the man wasn’t carrying anything, although he thought that possibly the guy had already positioned his weapon in the spot he wanted to fire from before coming over to speak to them. That strikes me as odd, though. Why would the shooter leave his gun unattended even for a moment? And if he was out to kill Republicans, why didn’t he attack DeSantis and Duncan?
Now watch Jeff Flake describe the shooter. The key bit comes at 4:10. “Forties, maybe 50. Dark hair, white. With a blue shirt on. I think jeans.”
Jeans, not running clothes. It’s possible that Flake is mistaken, of course: Maybe Hodgkinson was wearing a blue track suit which he thought from a distance looked like jeans. (Flake appears to be wrong about the shooter’s age, at least. Hodgkinson is 66.) But it’s also possible that the guy who spoke to Duncan and DeSantis was just a bystander who was curious about congressmen playing ball and wanted to know who was on the field. Maybe he was a Republican himself and curious to see if any names he recognized were there.
Still too early for anything definitive from the cops but as of now they have no evidence of a partisan motive:
By the way, if you’re following this on Drudge, you’re well advised to click the links and check his quotes. One all-caps headline as I write this at 11 a.m. ET reads “GUNMAN: ‘KILL AS MANY REPUBLICANS AS POSSIBLE'”. That links to this piece from The Week quoting a congressman — not the gunman — speculating that the motive was to kill as many Republicans as possible. Jury’s out for now.
Update: Further evidence that the Facebook page belongs to the shooter: No age is given but under “Life Events” he lists “1969 – Started School at Southwestern Illinois College.” If the Facebook page operator was 18 when he started college, as most people are, that means he was born in 1951. That would make him 66 now, the same age as the shooter.
Update: I think this is the proper lesson today.
Update: It’s worth noting that Sanders was one of the liberals who most forcefully condemned the threats against Ann Coulter when she wanted to speak at Berkeley. “Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous ― to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.”
Update: Welp, looks like the man who spoke to DeSantis and Duncan was indeed Hodgkinson. He wanted to know which party was on the field.
Update: Trump just announced that Hodgkinson died of his wounds. Thankfully, none of the victims have.
Update: Here’s Duncan in his own words claiming that he believes it was Hodgkinson whom he spoke to.
Update: Sanders disowns Hodgkinson: