On Wednesday morning, in Arlington, Virginia — a sleepy, upscale suburb of Washington DC — shots shattered the still morning air as the Republican baseball team was practicing for the congressional baseball game, which is set to take place on Thursday night and has been played every year since 1909. A lone shooter walked onto the field and shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the hip. Other members of congress who were present at the game recalled seeing Scalise crawling in the dirt in an attempt to escape the gunman.
Capitol Police opened fire on the shooter, now identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois, and killed him. In the hours following the shooting, Scalise and other staffers and congressmen present at the practice were rushed to the hospital. The Louisiana republican underwent surgery and is expected to make a full recovery. On a separate field, the democrats’ baseball team was also holding practice. When they heard about the shooting, they gathered in the dugout to pray for their colleagues — still unsure of the outcome of the tragic event.
Minutes after Hodgkinson was identified, links to his personal Facebook page were making rounds on the internet. The page is covered with photos of Bernie Sanders. His profile picture features an American flag with the phrase “Democratic Socialism: explained in 3 words: We The People.” In late May he shared a link to a petition urging the government to stop the Nexus pipeline.
Hodgkinson owns JTH Construction, but the number listed for that business is out of service. Rare spoke to Aaron Muerrer, a neighbor of Hodgkinson, who recalled him as a “quiet guy who didn’t go out too much,” also noting that “he seemed nice.” Muerrer told us that he doesn’t believe Hodgkinson’s business had many jobs, as he rarely saw the suspected shooter leave the house.
Muerrer added that during the primary race of the 2016 election Hodgkinson planted a Bernie Sanders campaign sign in his front yard. According to Muerrer, Hodgkinson “left [the neighborhood] a few months ago,” but the shooter’s wife still lives in the home.