June 14, 2017 02:01 PM EDT
James T. Hodgkinson didn’t leave a manifest on his Facebook page prior to firing on GOP lawmakers on Wednesday morning at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. But his social media posts do reveal his anger with President Trump and staunch support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
And his letters to his local newspaper show a political activist who had become angrier with U.S. policies and the tax system.
Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, died after a shootout with Capitol Police. He had opened fire on members of Congress at Simpson Park baseball field, located in a suburb of Washington, D.C.
He was a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer who spouted anti-Trump rhetoric, saying in one Facebook post, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
In 2012, in a letter to the editor at his hometown Belleville News-Democrat, Hodgkinson expressed his discontent with the system, and disjointedly said Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly spout, “lies and hatred and misdirection to anyone who will listen.”
“If I seem to be a broken record, it is because of the simple facts that need to be understood by everyone of voting age,” Hodgkinson wrote in an August 2012 letter to the editor. “I just want to let everyone know that income inequality was a factor in the causes of the Great Depression as well as the greed of Secretary of Treasury Andrew Mellon under the Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.”
Hodgkinson shot House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others from behind the dugout where he had positioned himself, according to police.
Scalise, who was shot in the hip, was rushed to a MedStar Hospital, where he underwent surgery. He is expected to recover from his injuries, according to his staff. A congressional aide, a lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers were also transported to the hospital for medical care, Alexandria police told reporters.
Republican members of Congress were practicing in the early hours Wednesday for Thursday’s much-anticipated charity baseball event to be held at Nationals Park in D.C. Democratic congressional members practice at a different field. The event aims to put partisan politics aside to raise money for local charities in the region.
Hodgkinson’s motive is not yet known, but a picture is beginning to build about what kind of man he was, with political anger toward the GOP’s policies at the center.
Hodgkinson was a home inspector and, according to the Better Business Bureau, he had his business for 23 years. There are few pictures of family or friends on his social media sites, but there are many of Sanders. He likes MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
“One of my favorite TV shows is “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC,” he said in 2012, in a letter to the editor of his local paper. “On a recent show, she stated that 17 very rich men are supplying the Republican Party with more than 60 percent of their campaign contributions.”
By mid-afternoon, Hodgkinson’s Facebook page had been taken down.
This story is developing.