The Illinois man identified as the suspected gunman behind a shooting that left a congressman and multiple others wounded in Virginia Wednesday had multiple run-ins with police, including one incident in March, authorities said.
The shooter, who President Donald Trump said has since died from his injuries, was identified by NBC News sources as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville.
According to a police report obtained by NBC News, officers in Hodgkinson’s hometown responded to reports of “shots fired” involving the man in March.
The report indicated police arrived at 4561 Frank Scott Parkway West in Belleville where they found Hodgkinson with a “high-powered weapon” and a valid Illinois firearms license.
According to the report, Hodgkinson was among pine trees shooting and was told not to fire his weapon in the area because there were homes nearby. Callers to 911 reported hearing roughly 50 shots in the area, about the same number of shots many said they heard in Wednesday’s shooting.
“For safety reasons we went over and talked to him,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson. “He was very nice, said, ‘Hey I’ll take it to a range, somewhere that’s safer’ and that was the end of it.”
Hodgkinson’s social media accounts indicated he was a supporter of Bernie Sanders during the previous presidential election. The former candidate said Wednesday that Hodgkinson apparently volunteered on his campaign, saying he was “sickened by this despicable act.”
According to Secretary of State corporate records, Hodgkinson owned a home inspection business, which he dissolved on Jan. 10. His home inspector license expired at the end of 2016.
The American Society of Home Inspectors confirmed Hodgkinson was a former member of the group whose membership ended in 2015.
“We retain no current ties with him,” the society wrote on social media. “ASHI extends its sympathies to the members of Congress, staff, first responders and all others affected by this tragedy.”
Online police records showed he was charged in 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, but those charges were ultimately dismissed.
Court records reviewed and obtained by NBC News show that Hodgkinson was charged in 2006 with assaulting his girlfriend. At the time police recovered a pocket knife, hair they say was pulled out of his girlfriend’s head and a 12-guage shotgun at the scene.
Hodgkinson lived in Rep. John Shimkus’ district. Shimkus plays on the baseball team that was practicing Wednesday but was not there during the shooting.
“At all the parties he was the jokester of the party. He was always happy-go-lucky,” said longtime friend who identified himself only as Dale. “It just took me by surprise when I saw it on the news today that he did what he did.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others were injured during the shooting at about 6 a.m. in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, one day ahead of the Congressional Baseball Game.
The five injured include two Capitol Police officers, Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said. An aide to Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, was also shot, the congressman’s office said.
A witness described the shooter as a white man, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. His demeanor was “calm,” witness Falisa Peoples said.
“He didn’t say anything … he was just shooting,” said Peoples, who was about to teach an exercise class at a nearby YMCA. “They were shooting at each other … I thought it was some exercise.”
The special agent in charge of the FBI’s investigation said there was no immediate indication of the shooter’s motive, and that it was too early to tell if Republicans were targeted.
Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, had surgery and remains in critical condition at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Published at 11:54 AM CDT on Jun 14, 2017 | Updated 5 hours ago