James T. Hodgkinson’s encounters with local police included a domestic attack that included shooting a shotgun, a drunk crash and just a few months ago he was told to stop shooting in the woods near his home.
Neighbors complained and called the St. Clair County Sheriff at 3 p.m., March 24, when they heard about 50 shots fired in some pine trees near Hodgkinson’s home. The deputy found Hodgkinson, who had a valid Firearms Owner’s ID, and told him not to shoot there anymore.
On April 1, 2006, Hodgkinson was cuffed and his shotgun taken as evidence after a domestic fight.
He went to a neighbor’s house and tried to get his high school-aged daughter to come home. When she refused he became violent, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the floor.
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The young woman and her friend tried to leave in a car. Hodgkinson opened the door, cut the ignition and used a pocketknife to cut the seatbelt.
When the friend threatened to call police, Hodgkinson punched her in the face. When the young woman’s boyfriend went to Hodgkinson’s house to talk about the attack, Hodgkinson aimed a 12-guage shotgun at his face. The boyfriend fled and Hodgkinson fired a shot behind him.
Hodgkinson had two battery charges and an aiding damage to a vehicle charge later dismissed.
Lyndon P. Evanko, a retired criminal defense attorney who represented Hodgkinson in the 2006 criminal battery case, said Hodgkinson left such a small impression on him that he had forgotten who he was until reporters sent him copies of the police reports.
“It was a family dispute centered around a foster child,” Evanko said. “He and his wife were trying to get her out of a vehicle, and he used a pocket knife to cut the seat belt and pull her out of the car. At some point, a neighbor came over, and he pointed a shotgun at the neighbor. A shot was fired, although not at the neighbor. I got the charges dismissed.”
While Evanko said Hodgkinson “didn’t seem violent,” he described him as a “rather angry person,” a misanthrope who “felt he was right about everything and everyone else was wrong.”
In 2009 he was charged by Belleville with failing to obtain an electrical contractor license or electrical permit before performing work, but it, too was dismissed. He has DUI, resisting arrest and fleeing charges from Jan. 7, 1993, that were dismissed after court supervision.
Belleville DUI Attorney Tom Daley did represent Hodgkinson on some cases.
Daley said Hodgkinson had an accident and was charged with failing to exchange information, but the case was dismissed.
Daley said his office had some misdemeanor cases expunged for Hodgkinson, but couldn’t be more specific.
Daley said he was shocked he had Hodgskinson as a client.
“I don’t have any recollection of this guy, I deal with probably 1,000 people a year at least, probably more than that,” Daley said. “Minor traffic ticket like that doesn’t register too good.”
BND reporter Joseph Bustos and McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Greg Gordon contributed to this report.