Feds arrive at dead shooter's house in Belleville
In the days before he opened fire on Republican congressmen playing a practice baseball game, James T. Hodgkinson was running out of money and possibly contemplating a return home.
These are just a few of the details released Wednesday by the FBI that bring into question whether the 66-year-old Belleville man planned specifics of the June 14 attack at a ballpark in Alexandria, Va.
“At this point in the investigation, it appears more spontaneous,” FBI special agent Tim Slater said Wednesday at a press conference in D.C.
Investigators say Hodgkinson acted alone with no known terrorist ties when he fired 60 shots using a rifle and a handgun at congressmen and staffers from left field, investigators said. He died in a gunfight with police at the ballfield.
Two days before the shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, Hodgkinson — who openly espoused anti-Republican ideals — sent a text message to a family member, asking to return home. The night before the shooting, Hodgkinson searched directions from Alexandria to his home in Belleville.
Hodgkinson, whom the FBI said Wednesday had anger-management issues, had been living out of his van in the Alexandria area for months.
Slater said the FBI believed Hodgkinson did not have particular congressmen in mind when he carried out the attack, though he was carrying a list of six congressmen when he was shot.
When he opened fire on the baseball field, Hodgkinson critically injured U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and injured three others. Scalise’s Twitter account reported Wednesday that he is in fair condition, per MedStar Washington Hospital Center in D.C.
During Hodgkinson’s time in the area, he visited the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., rented a storage unit and took pictures of national monuments.
Hodgkinson kept more than 200 rounds of ammunition, rifle components, a laptop and a receipt for a November 2016 gun purchase in the unit, which he frequented sometimes twice daily.
A supporter of Sen. Sanders’ bid for the presidency, Hodgkinson visited the Vermont senator’s D.C. office, though the two did not meet. The day of the shooting, Sanders said he was sickened by Hodgkinson’s actions.
Hodgkinson apparently took advantage of tourist activities while he was in the nation’s capital. Investigators recovered pictures of the National Mall and D.C. monuments from his camera. He also took pictures at the ballpark, but investigators said they do not believe he was collecting surveillance of intended targets.
Some highlights of the investigation, according to the FBI:
▪ Hodgkinson asked someone at the practice if it was for “the Republican or Democrat baseball game.”
▪ Hodgkinson had a list with the names of six congressmen with him during the shooting, but investigators declined to call the list a “hit list.” A search of Hodgkinson’s online search records showed he only conducted a loose search about two members of Congress named on the list. The list included the names of U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks, of Alabama; Jeff Duncan, of South Carolina; and Trent Franks, of Arizona, according to USA Today, though the other names were not immediately known. No one injured in the shooting was on the list.
▪ Two U.S. Capitol Police officers returned fire on Hodgkinson and reported him down via police radio at 7:14 a.m. Investigators found shell casings from both of Hodgkinson’s guns on the field.
▪ A search of Hodgkinson’s vehicle revealed a cell phone and digital camera. An analysis of the electronics showed Hodgkinson had not posted any threats online, though he did make numerous posts espousing anti-Republican views on his Facebook page. Investigators said the posts appear to be protected by First Amendment free-speech rights. Hodgkinson did not search the web on the morning of the shooting.
▪ Investigators said they do not consider the shooting to be a terrorist act, but deemed it an assault on a member of Congress and a federal officer.
▪ Hodgkinson visited his storage unit more than 43 times between April and June, usually between 6 and 7 a.m. and sometimes twice a day.
▪ Special agent Timothy R. Slater said Hodgkinson was taking prescription medication, though he declined to specify what kind.
▪ The rifle was modified to fit a detachable magazine. The original stock was replaced with a folding stock.
▪ Investigators also found on Hodgkinson a rough sketch of some Washington D.C. streets, but it was insignificant, investigators said.
▪ Prior to traveling to Alexandria, Hodgkinson searched Google for truck stops, maps and toll-free routes to the northern Virginia area.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.