Suspected Virginia shooter had lengthy arrest record and was known as fierce critic of Republicans
Facebook and hometown paper show James Hodgkinson had violent background
The Illinois man suspected of shooting a Republican congressman and several others while they practised baseball outside Washington, D.C., had a number of run-ins with police in recent years, including arrests for battery, resisting arrest and drunken driving.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, was fatally shot by police. Court records show that his legal trouble started in the 1990s. His most serious problems apparently came in 2006, when he was arrested on a battery charge. Records indicate he had not been involved in any legal cases since 2011.
He also had strong political views that were regularly visible on Facebook and in his local newspaper, the Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat, to which he wrote letters to the editor. His Facebook page has since been taken down.
The paper posted a photo Wednesday of Hodgkinson carrying a placard and protesting against the Republican Party in 2012.
His letters to the editor decried Republican economic policies and supported the Democrats.
"These men are trying to buy our country," he wrote in 2012. "You know they expect something for all this money. That something is that Mitt Romney and a Republican Congress won't raise their taxes. We all know that the rich don't pay enough taxes."
Hodgkinson's Facebook page indicated that, until recently, he ran a home-inspection business out of his home in Belleville, in the southwestern corner of the state, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
He also previously operated a company called JTH Construction.
Hodgkinson was a member of many anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including "The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans," "Terminate The Republican Party," and "Donald Trump is not my President," a search of what appeared to be his profile showed.
Senator Bernie Sanders, for whom Hodgkinson apparently campaigned in 2016, issued a statement after news of the shootings broke Wednesday and reports began being published that Hodgkinson had been an active Sanders supporter.
"I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign," Sanders wrote.
"I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values."
Hodgkinson was charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, according to state records. The charges were dismissed, the records show.
He pleaded guilty to a 2007 speeding offence, driving 15 to 20 miles per hour over the limit, according to court records in Jefferson County, Ill. The records identified him as a five-foot, six-inch man weighing 190 pounds, with brown eyes.
According to his Facebook profile, Hodgkinson went to Belleville Township High School West and studied flight training at Southwestern Illinois College.
A review of his online posts stretching back several years found that his public posts were almost exclusively about politics, and that they often sharply criticized Republican politicians and policies.
Among the most frequent topics Hodgkinson wrote about were income inequality and money in politics. He referred to Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that eased regulation of campaign spending, as "Citizens Divided."
With files from Reuters, CBC News