The suspected shooter in today's incident in Virginia is 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson (66) of Belleville, Illinois, is dead. So said President Donald Trump at the White House when he called for prayers for victims of the shootings that unfolded in the Washington DC suburb of Alexandria, Virginia. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) is among the wounded. He is expected to survive his injuries. Trump said on Wednesday morning, "The assailant has now died from his injuries." Trump did not mention Hodgkinson's name. Capitol Police exchanged fire with the assailant and were wounded. Two officers are hospitalized and undergoing surgery. The shooter used a rifle to pull off as many as 40 shots, according to witnesses.

In an emotional speech in the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said of the attack "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us" to the applause of the entire chamber. He said that he is awed by the bravery of the Capitol Police. Ryan said that Capitol Police, FBI, and local police are investigating the incident. He recognized the group of Democratic colleagues who gathered in prayer for Scalise. "Let's slow down and reflect that we are being tested right now," he said, and called on his colleagues to be united.  
 

Hodgkinson had been living in Alexandria for the past two months after leaving his business as a home inspector and mold/air quality tester. He had a long record of traffic violations and petty offenses in St. Clair County that spanned from 1989 to 2011. Hodgkinson’s Facebook page showed that he bore allegiance to a number of anti-Republican groups and had recently written a hate-filled message to Trump.  On Facebook, he wrote: “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.”
 
Hodgkinson belonged to the following anti-Republican groups on Facebook:
 
▪  “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 utilized a Democratic ballot in the primary election in 2016. He reportedly asked a bystander at the baseball field whether the players on the field were Democrats or Republicans before beginning his rampage.

 


 
Around 7 a.m. local time, Rep. Steve Scalise and four other persons were wounded when Hodgkinson opened fire on them at a baseball field in Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood. Republican legislators were practicing for Thursday's annual charity congressional baseball game. One of the Congressman said he heard a “burst of gunfire” and the field and saw “people were dropping.”
 
Hodgkinson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Capitol Police who happened to be on hand as Scalise’s security detail. Police are still on the scene. Victims have been transported to area hospitals. His Facebook page revealed an interest in politics and featured a banner image of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and a profile picture about Democratic Socialism. His profile picture said, “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: ‘We the People’ Since 1776.”

His Facebook page includes several political posts, including one on May 24 asking for signatures on a Change.org petition demanding that  the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stop the NEXUS pipeline.

Hodgkinson signed a petition on May 21 titled, “George H.W. Bush: Past Presidents Urge Congress to Launch Independent Investigation,” and shared that on his Facebook page. On March 22 he wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

“Bernie is a Progressive, while Hillary is Republican Lite,” he wrote. In another post he wrote, “#ScreamAsOne #NeverVotingHill,” and “You’ve been warned DNC. I will NEVER vote Hillary. A nomination for Hillary equals a win for Trump. #NOTWithHer.” Hodgkinson also wrote, “Bernie is the Only Candidate in Decades that Really Cares about the Working Class. … Bernie is a Candidate of a Lifetime. We Need Bernie in the White House. Bernie is the Only Candidate Talking about the Issues.” Sanders' office has not responded to the news of Hodgkinson's support.

President Donald Trump made the following statement:

As you all know, shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning, a gunman opened fire on members of Congress and their staffs as they were practicing for tomorrow's annual charity baseball game. Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime, and the assailant has now died from his injuries. The FBI is leading the investigation and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

Congressman Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership, was shot and badly wounded, and is now in stable condition at the hospital, along with two very courageous Capitol Police officers. At least two others were also wounded. Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault. Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims. Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend. He's a patriot and he's a fighter. He will recover from this assault. And, Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world. America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting. I spoke with Steve's wife, Jennifer, and I pledged to her our full and absolute support — anything she needs. We are with her and with the entire Scalise family.

I have also spoken with Chief Matthew Verderosa — he's doing a fantastic job — of the Capitol Police to express our sympathies for his wounded officers and to express my admiration for their courage. Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.

We also commend the brave first responders from Alexandria Police, Fire and Rescue who rushed to the scene. Everyone on that field is a public servant — our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress who represent our people.

We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.

Please take a moment today to cherish those you love, and always remember those who serve and keep us safe. God bless them all, God bless you, and God Bless America. Thank you.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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