The shooter who was killed during gunfire at practice for a congressional baseball game Wednesday morning was from Belleville.
The shooter was James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, who belonged to a number of anti-Republican groups, including one called “Terminate the Republican Party.”
President Donald Trump said Hodgkinson died during gunfire exchanged with congressional security workers.
Hodgkinson, 66, owns a home-inspection business. Hodgkinson was a licensed home inspector from 1994 to 1997, when his license expired, according to records from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He also held a license from 2003 to 2016, but it was not renewed.
Two days ago, Hodgkinson posted an angry tweet about President Donald Trump on Facebook.
“I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office,” he wrote on Facebook.
Hodgkinson is a member of a number of anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including one called “Terminate the Republican Party.”
▪ “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans”
▪ “Donald Trump is not my President”
▪ “President Bernie Sanders”
▪ “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump”
▪ “Boycott the Republican Party”
▪ “Expose Republican Fraud”
▪ “Terminate the Republican Party”
Hodgkinson took a Democratic ballot in the primary election in 2016.
In 2012, Hodgkinson took part in a protest outside the downtown Belleville post office. He said he was part of a “99%” team drawing attention to the amount of money and political power the top 1 percent of Americans acquired.
Terry Beach, the executive director of the St. Clair County Intergovermental Grants Department, said Hodgkinson worked as a subcontractor in the department’s housing rehabilitation and weatherization program.
However he had been banned from the department, Beach said. Beach said he didn’t remember him well. It wasn’t immediately clear why Hodgkinson was banned from the department.
Hodgkinson has a varied arrest record in St. Clair County, for offenses such as failing to obtain electrical permits, damaging a motor vehicle, resisting a peace officer, eluding police, criminal damage to property, driving under the influence and assorted traffic offenses.
Realtor Charlene Brennan with Strano & Associates in Belleville, Ill, used Hodgkinson from time to time for home inspections.
“He used to be in construction or the building trades, and then he went into home inspections. He had been doing home inspections for several years,” she said.
There was nothing about Hodgkinson that would have pointed to Wednesday’s events.
“From a business standpoint, he did not seem like he is a radical — opinionated but not a radical,” Brennan said. “He wasn’t obnoxious, he wasn’t problematic. When he did home inspections for me he didn’t rile up the buyers or make ridiculous statements.”
Former Congressman William Enyart, a Democrat from Belleville who was defeated by current Rep. Mike Bost, said he’s never heard of Hodgkinson.
“I don’t have a clue who this guy is,” Enyart said.
Enyart was defeated by Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro, in 2014.
Enyart is friends with Hodgkinson on Facebook, but Enyart said when he was is public life, he had a generally policy of “friending everybody.”
Three metro-east congressmen asked for prayers on Wednesday morning after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisana, was shot in the hip by a rifle-wielding man at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, has been Scalise’s Washington, D.C. roommate for about eight years.
Shimkus is listed on the 2017 Republican team roster for the game. The congressman said he was not at the practice Wednesday morning.
“We are pretty close,” Shimkus said. “I blew (practice) off today because my body is old — and I had a speech.”
Shimkus said the game, scheduled for Thursday, is a great bipartisan event with a lot of “trash talk” that unites Congress rather than divides it.
“(Scalise) is a very good friend and it’s a shame that this happened,” Shimkus said. “The world doesn’t stop and he wouldn’t want us to stop.”
The representative said practice usually begins about six weeks before the game.
“And to have this assault occur — whether it was random or targeting, we will let law enforcement do their due diligence — it just puts a damper on something that is good,” Shimkus said.
“My guess is that we will still suit up and still play. It’s one of those moments where you don’t want to let fear and evil stop good things. So I think the game will go on, but I don’t know for sure.”
Shimkus took to Twitter on Wednesday morning, asking for prayers for the people involved.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, who is not on the 2017 roster, said Scalise puts a meal together every week in his office for anyone who wants to come by.
“There is a reason he is a whip … he is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet,” Bost said. “He is just a member of congress that is just as friendly, you know, we get along here — we may have our differences. Steve is one that both democrats and republicans think all the world of.”
Bost said that Scalise was shot in the hip area, a staffer was severely wounded by a bullet, a female officer was shot in the foot and a male officer was shot before shooting the gunman.
Bost also took to Twitter to offer his sympathies.
“Horrible news this morning,” Bost tweeted. “Please keep @SteveScalise and his family, as well as USCP (United States Capitol Police) in your prayers.”
In 2016, Bost posted a selfie on Facebook with his staff at the June 23 game.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is on the 2017 Republican team roster and was at the practice Wednesday morning, his spokeswoman confirmed.
He was not injured.
Davis, in an interview with reporters, said:
“The camaraderie exists. That’s a misperception. We have great camaraderie out here between Republicans and Democrats. I urge you to ask many of the Democrats I’ve served with, No. 1, if they know me, and No. 2, what we’ve worked on together. Because we’ve worked on a lot of things together in a very bipartisan way. We have to come together as Americans.
“We have to take this tragedy that we saw today that could have been much, much worse, and turn it into a positive, to let Americans know if you disagree with your political leaders, that’s OK. That’s why we have elections. But let’s not ratchet up the hateful speech.
“We see stories about policies are going to lead to the death of people. That’s political rhetoric that has run amok and has turned into hate and it may, may be the reason why we saw the senseless tragedy that we saw today. And if it is, this could be the first political rhetorical terrorist act that we’ve seen on our soil. And we can change that. Only we can change that.”
Bost also took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to ask for prayers.
“Please pray for Steve and all those injured,” he wrote in the tweet.
Bost said in a statement: “With reports indicating that Wednesday morning’s shooter is from my district, this is a tragedy that certainly hits close to home. As we continue to gather information, Tracy and I would like to send our prayers to my friend and colleague, Steve Scalise, as well as members of the security detail and congressional staff who were injured. We live in challenging times and the political rhetoric has been turned up to an alarming level. This should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to step back from the battle lines and come together to strengthen our nation.”
Two officers were shot during the attack. Reports later confirmed them to be part of Scalise’s United States Capitol Police security detail. They were shot during a gunfight with the shooter, who was also wounded.
According to Scalise’s Twitter, he was in stable condition as of 9:15 a.m. and undergoing surgery. Shimkus also confirmed that Scalise was in stable condition.
The game between Democrats and Republicans began in 1909 and has been continuously played since 1962.
“I really enjoy the Congressional Baseball Game, as it is great for camaraderie among our team, as a stress reliever, and as a fundraiser for these two worthwhile charities,” Shimkus said on his website in 2010.
Scalise was elected to serve in the U.S. House in 2008 and is the No. 3 House Republican leader, according to published reports.
The Associated Press reported President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy.”