It’s not a good week to be named James Hodgkinson.
The name is all over the news and internet after James Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Belleville, opened fire at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday. He wounded U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and three others before he was fatally shot by U.S. Capitol Police.
James Hodgkinson, a 34-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, changed his profile picture on Facebook to alert people that he was not the same man who opened fire at the baseball practice. The new profile picture is a meme that reads, “I’m not the guy who did the shooting...Do I look 60+years old?”
The amount of hateful messages and comments he was getting was extreme, so he hoped that would fix it. It didn’t help much, he said.
“It started out as ‘Why the hell did you do this?’ ‘You’re such an evil person,’ ‘Burn in hell,’ ‘You (expletive) suck,’” Hodgkinson said. “Then there were some that said ‘Way to go,’ ‘Screw the U.S. government and ‘ISIS rules.’”
He got an invitation to join the Islamic State, nude photos from multiple women and almost 600 friend requests. He deleted and reported most of the messages.
The messages were funny at first, Hodgkinson said, but the more hateful ones he got, the more hurtful it became.
One man messaged him and said he would find Hodgkinson and kill him and his whole family. Another threatened to burn down his house.
“I think it’s just the name,” he said, noting that people most likely didn’t even check to see if it was the right profile before sending a message or posting a comment. “I know that sounds so silly — there’s so many people who share names with so many folks.”
A man named Jesse James messaged him, urging Hodgkinson to not take the messages to heart.
“It’s a shame people would go to such measures,” Hodgkinson said. “I don’t agree with most of what the government does, but if I was going to protest, I wouldn’t do it in that way.”
Hodgkinson said he luckily didn’t have any personal information posted on Facebook. But that hasn’t made the past few days on Facebook any easier.
As of Thursday afternoon, he said, the messages and comments had died down.