Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/15/2017 9:07 AM

Who was the shooter at D.C. congressional baseball practice?

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • James Hodgkinson of Belleville protests outside the United States post office in downtown Belleville in this file photo. Hodgkinson was part of the "99%" group drawing attention to the disproportionate amount of money and political power the top 1 percent of Americans have acquired. He has been identified as the gunman who attacked congressmen Wednesday.

    James Hodgkinson of Belleville protests outside the United States post office in downtown Belleville in this file photo. Hodgkinson was part of the "99%" group drawing attention to the disproportionate amount of money and political power the top 1 percent of Americans have acquired. He has been identified as the gunman who attacked congressmen Wednesday.
    Derik Holtmann/Bellville News Democrat

  • Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, is placed into an ambulance at the scene of a shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday.

    Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, is placed into an ambulance at the scene of a shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday.
    Associated Press

  • Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, center, and other members of the Republican Congressional softball team stand behind police tape of the scene of a multiple shooting in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday.

    Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, center, and other members of the Republican Congressional softball team stand behind police tape of the scene of a multiple shooting in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday.
    Associated Press

  • Video: From the scene during shooting

  • Shooting scene

    Graphic: Shooting scene (click image to open)

  • Site of Shooting

    Graphic: Site of Shooting (click image to open)

 
By Elizabeth Donald
Belleville News-Democrat

One of the biggest questions coming out of the shooting in Virginia has been: Who was James T. Hodgkinson?

The 66-year-old was named Wednesday by law enforcement as the shooter at the Congressional baseball practice. President Donald Trump confirmed in a statement midmorning that he died shortly after he was taken into custody.

But up until Wednesday morning, the shooter seemed to have led a fairly normal life.

The gunman was born in 1951 to Deloris and James J. Hodgkinson. He was one of three children and grew up in Belleville, graduating from Belleville West High School in 1968.

He joined the high school wrestling and track teams as a freshman in 1965, according to the school yearbook. In his sophomore and junior years, yearbooks list him as a member of the varsity wrestling team at Belleville West. No activities or clubs were listed in his senior yearbook.

While some of his family moved away, the gunman settled in Belleville with his wife, Sue.

Beginning in 1969, he studied aviation at Belleville Area College, which later became Southwestern Illinois College. Then in the fall of 1971, he transferred to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, then only six years open in its current location. He took two classes in one term, according to SIUE spokesman Doug McIlhagga, but did not complete a degree.

Five years later he opened JTH Construction, which he operated for nearly 20 years, according to his Facebook page. In 1994, JTH Construction became JTH Inspections, a home inspection and air quality testing service that he listed as closed in 2016.

Law enforcement officials have not said what they believe his motive may have been. The shooter's social media posts were marked by politics; he took part in a protest against income inequality at the Belleville post office in 2012 and often wrote letters to the Belleville News-Democrat to protest conservative policies. He was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter and apparently volunteered for Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, and he had repeatedly taken a Democratic ballot in recent elections.

In March, the gunman was warned to stop firing at trees on his property after neighbor complaints. He had a valid Illinois Firearms Owner's Identification card at the time. In 2006, his shotgun was confiscated after a domestic fight between him, his daughter and two of his daughter's friends. The charges were later dismissed. He has had other minor charges, including a DUI and resisting arrest charge that was dismissed in 1993.

According to news reports, Sue Hodgkinson has told reporters that her husband had been living in Alexandria, Virginia, for the past few months. There was no record of divorce filings in St. Clair County, however.

The gunman's brother, Michael Hodgkinson, told The New York Times that James was unhappy about the election of Trump and had gone to Washington to protest. However, he also said that while James was "engaged in politics," he otherwise led a normal life and had told his wife he would be returning home soon because he missed her and their dogs.

Social media accounts for both the gunman and his wife were deluged with abusive comments after law enforcement named him as the shooter. Facebook has taken down his accounts.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.