afp_pk0do.jpg

This portrait picture obtained on his Facebook page on June 14 shows James T. Hodgkinson, who was identified as the shooter at the Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria,VA.
Hodgkinson, 66, died of injuries sustained in a shootout with police. | AFP/Facebook

Gunman who shot congressman had 200 rounds of ammo in storage

SHARE Gunman who shot congressman had 200 rounds of ammo in storage
SHARE Gunman who shot congressman had 200 rounds of ammo in storage

WASHINGTON — Adrift and nearly out of money after three months of living out of his van in the Washington area, the Illinois gunman who shot a top House Republican and four other people on a Virginia baseball field didn’t have any concrete plans to inflict violence on the Republicans he loathed.

But James T. Hodgkinson, 66, did have a lot of ammunition: 200 rounds stockpiled in a storage locker in Virginia, according to the FBI.

Hodgkinson, of downstate Belleville, was shot and killed by police after he opened fire on Congressional Republicans practicing for their annual charity baseball game against Democrats last week. Rep. Steve Scalise of Lousiana, the House majority whip, was struck in the hip and gravely wounded. Scalise remains hospitalized, and his condition was upgraded to fair on Wednesday. All five people who were shot, including two U.S. Capitol police officers, survived their injuries.

At a news conference on Wednesday, FBI officials gave an overview of the evidence they’ve gathered on Hodgkinson. They said he acted alone and had no connections to terror groups. But they said they had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why, beyond his animus toward President Donald Trump and the Republicans he felt were ruining the country.

It wasn’t even clear whether he had prior plans to attack the baseball practice or whether he just happened upon it the morning of June 14, said Tim Slater, who leads the criminal division of the FBI’s Washington field office. “At this point in the investigation, it appears more spontaneous,” Slater said.

Hodgkinson visited the rental storage locker containing the ammunition more than 43 times between April and June, authorities found. A search also found a laptop computer, a receipt for a November 2016 gun purchase and additional rifle components.The FBI has not finished scouring those devices for evidence, Slater said.

Hodgkinson also had a piece of paper with the names of six members of Congress written on it, Slater said, but the note lacked any further context and there was no evidence from his computer, phone or other belongings that indicated he planned to target those officials. Slater declined to name the officials whose names were on the note or say whether they were Republicans or Democrats.

Scalise, 51, “continues to make good progress,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by MedStar Washington Hospital Center, “and is beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation.”

Law enforcement personnel enter the home of James T. Hodgkinson near Belleville on Wednesday. | Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Law enforcement personnel enter the home of James T. Hodgkinson near Belleville June 14. | Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Hogkinson was an unemployed home inspector who frequently railed against Republicans in letters to the editor and angry social media posts. In November, shortly after Trump was elected, he purchased the two guns that he used in the shooting, a rifle and a 9mm handgun. Neighbors called police as Hodgkinson conducted target practice on his property, but he did not violate any laws, the FBI said.

In March, Hodgkinson left Illinois and drove to Alexandria, Virginia, where he lived in his van in a YMCA parking lot.

In April, Hogkinson made the tourist rounds in Washington, visiting monuments, museums, the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office Building and taking pictures, the FBI said. He also took pictures of the baseball field where he would later fire more than 60 shots.

“The FBI does not believe that these photographs represented surveillance of intended targets,” the FBI said in a statement.

The FBI statement and Slater’s comments painted a picture of a down-on-his-luck man with few future prospects. Hodgkinson was taking prescription drugs, although Slater did not say what the drugs were for or whether he was abusing them.

“He was running out of money. He was not employed at the time of the event, and he was looking for some local employment. He was married for 30 years, and it appears that that marriage was not going so well,” Slater said. “It was just a pattern of life where you could tell things were not going well.”

Investigators and men dressed in baseball gear gather at Eugene Simpson Field, where a gunman opened fire June 14 in Alexandria, Virginia. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Investigators and men dressed in baseball gear gather at Eugene Simpson Field, where a gunman opened fire June 14 in Alexandria, Virginia. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

The FBI also found:

• A Google search of truck stops, maps and toll-free routes to the Northern Virginia area on Hodgkinson’s computer. A cursory internet search on two members of Congress also appeared in the analysis. These two members appeared on the list of six Congress members that Hodgkinson carried on him.

• Hodgkinson’s Internet searches the night before the shooting included a Google map search from Alexandria to his home in Belleville and a search of the “2017 Republican Convention.”

The Latest
“I hate to say this, there are more people that are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted, “Shame on you.” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) tweeted that the Republican governor was an “@sshole” and should” keep our city’s name out of your mouth.”
Officers were called to the 4600 block of North Winthrop Avenue around 11 a.m. and discovered the girl unresponsive, according to police.
Country music provided a fertile ground for storytelling on “Cruel Country.” In the band’s “grittier” version of country music, lyrics have more emphasis.
Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.
While people aren’t staying home because of gas prices, some are making changes to their travel plans, AAA says.