After Lawmaker Shooting,
Probe Seeks Clues amid Trail of Political Anger Left by Attacker
By Dana Hedgpeth and Peter Hermann
June 15, 2017 at 6:31 AM
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Law enforcement officials worked Thursday to piece together the final nomadic months of the shooter whose anger toward President Trump apparently erupted in a rage of gunfire that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others wounded on a baseball field.
Among the many questions for investigators is whether the gunman James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old unemployed home inspector from southern Illinois had long planned Wednesdays assault and possibly studied the movements of lawmakers in the months he spent living in his van in northern Virginia.
Hodgkinson died after a shootout at the Alexandria baseball field where Scalise and Republican colleagues were holding a practice for an annual congressional baseball game against Democrats.
Authorities said Hodgkinson used a rifle and a handgun in the attack. They were investigating whether they were obtained legally.
Scalise remained in critical condition, according to officials at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Four other people were wounded by gunfire and two of them were still hospitalized, including a lobbyist who remains in critical condition.
The shooting brought temporary displays of unity among lawmakers across Americas sharp political divide. But the attack also resonated far beyond the crime itself into possible reckonings over the countrys drift toward increasingly angry and uncompromising politics.
A major show of political solidarity was expected later Thursday at the Congressional Baseball Game, which organizers vowed to hold even in the chaotic hours after the shootings. Officials said there will be additional security at Nationals Park for the 108-year-old event.
Last year, an estimated 10,000 people were said to have attended game which has a long tradition.
Hodgkinson, who had been living in his van in Alexandria for the past few months, had posted anti-Trump rhetoric on his Facebook page and had written letters to his hometown newspaper blaming Republicans for what he considered an agenda favoring the wealthy.
Several congressmen at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria praised the officers who engaged Hodgkinson, including two Capitol Police officers who were injured. One lawmaker said the baseball team members would have been sitting ducks had the gunman been able to make it onto the field.
It would have been a bloodbath, said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.).
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), a retired Army general, said, the shooter was kept off the field by a chain-link fence, which was locked. If he had been able to gain entrance to the field, it would have been a whole different story.
In a televised statement from the White House, Trump called for people to come together and commended the injured officers.
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, he said.
Lawmakers and bystanders described a horrific attack that began shortly after 7 a.m., when the shooter began firing more than 50 rounds from a military-style rifle and a handgun, taking aim through the chain-link fence.
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