Investigators: Belleville man who shot 5 at GOP baseball practice acted alone | St. Louis Public Radio

Investigators: Belleville man who shot 5 at GOP baseball practice acted alone

Jun 21, 2017

James Hodgkinson, the Belleville, Illinois, man who shot and wounded a Republican congressman and four others June 14 at a Congressional baseball practice acted alone, investigators said Wednesday.

"The FBI is investigating this shooting as an assault on a member of Congress, and an assault on a federal officer," said Andrew Vale, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office. "We also assessed that there is no nexus to terrorism." In this context, terrorism means international groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Hodgkinson, 66, used a rifle and a handgun to fire nearly 60 shots at the Republican baseball team, which was practicing for the annual baseball game the next night.  Police shot and killed him at the scene.

FBI special agent Timothy Slater, who led the investigation, said law enforcement is still trying to determine Hodgkinson's exact motives for the shooting.

"“I know that he was struggling in all kinds of different ways, but I do not know the specifics of why he intended, or his motive at the time," Slater said. "“[He] made numerous posts on his social media accounts espousing anti-Republican views, however, those posts appear to be First Amendment-protected rights.”

Slater said Hodgkinson legally purchased both the guns he used in the attack — the handgun in March 2003 and the rifle in November 2016, after the presidential election. He said Hodgkinson had never posted direct threats against members of Congress or the Congressional baseball game, but said that a witness told investigators Hodgkinson stayed at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park after being told it was the Republican team practicing. Slater said the investigation into his motive continues.

The injured congressman, Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana, remains hospitalized in fair condition. The two teams played the Congressional baseball game as scheduled the day after the shooting.

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