May 25, 2018

Gunman who shot congressman had history of anti-GOP activity

16 June 2017, 05:38 | Lucia Cruz

Steve Scalise

Steve Scalise

Investigators said in a statement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has searched the van, which was parked not far from the Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field where Wednesday's shooting took place. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pauses as he speaks Wednesday, June 14, 2017, on the Senate floor at the Capitol in Washington, about the shooting at the Republican congressional baseball practice. Hodgkinson also shot Zack Barth, an aide to Texas Rep. Roger Williams, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika and Capitol Police Officer Crystal Griner, who were all expected to recover.

Charles Orear, 50, a restaurant manager from St. Louis, said in an interview Wednesday that he became friendly with Hodgkinson during their work together in Iowa on Sanders's 2016 campaign.

Until recently, Hodgkinson ran a home-inspection business out of his house in southern IL.

David Gomez, a veteran of the FBI's profiling unit and senior fellow at George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, said it's vital to find out if and when Hodgkinson took a personal hit that could be tied to his larger political grievances, such as losing health insurance or employment.

"He said, 'I understand, ' and said he needed to take the gun to a range to shoot it, Watson said". State records showed he was a 66-year-old home inspector.

Orear described Hodgkinson as a "quiet guy" who was "very mellow, very reserved" when they stayed overnight at the home of a Sanders supporter in Rock Island, Illinois, after canvassing for the Vermont senator.

One woman who asked not to be named told Reuters that Hodgkinson had contacted her via Facebook as part of a political discussion, but that he subsequently commented on her page that Clinton was a "liar" and a "baby killer".

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Sanders says in a statement: "I am sickened by this despicable act".

Experts say far more important factors behind shootings are untreated mental health issues and past histories of violence.

"I would try to chat him up and say stuff, but he never looked back at me", Brennwald said.

"He was very to himself, very aloof... he didn't show a lot of emotion to Eli... you'd think when your grandson is hugging you [you'd show some some emotion]", Knepper said.

An online search of newspapers shows that he frequently wrote letters to his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, which published almost two dozen of them between 2010 and 2012. He had been a vocal opponent of the Republican Party.

Hodgkinson compared the economic conditions of the time to those that preceded the Great Depression and excoriated Congress for not increasing the number of tax brackets and taking other tax reform measures. The sheriff received a phone call reporting about 50 shots "in the pine trees" in a lightly populated area near Belleville.

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