On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we went Behind the Headlines and the headlines this week reached all the way from Alexandria, Virginia, to Belleville, Illinois. We focused this week’s segment on the local connection to the shooting, which was perpetrated by a 66-year-old man from Belleville, James T. Hodgkinson.
We first spoke with U.S. Representative Mike Bost, of Illinois’ 12th District, of which Hodgkinson lived in. Bost said that the Capitol was shaken after the shooting. When he found out the shooter was from his home district, Bost’s team started searching for any previous communications.
“We wanted to make sure we hadn’t missed a sign, that we hadn’t failed in our duty to report,” Bost said. “He had communicated with us in the last seven months ten times, nine times by email, one time by telephone. No threats in there, nothing that showed he was going to do something.”
We also spoke with Dana Rieck, a breaking news reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, who joined the program to talk about community reaction and the paper’s extensive local reporting on the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson. The paper has been lauded for its local reporting.
Rieck was the first reporter in the office on the morning of the shooting and was looking for local reaction before she learned the shooter was from the city. The paper's staff then kicked into overdrive, dredging up archival letters Hodgkinson had written to the paper, photographs of him at local protests over the year, delving into criminal records and family relations and speaking to anyone who knew him.
"The Belleville community in general is surprised ... no one seemed to think he was capable of such an extreme act," Rieck said.
The community has seen an influx of national reporters, but that the community newspaper has kept at its dogged reporting because of the due diligence it owes its neighbors. You can read all of their coverage here.
Listen to the full discussion with both Rep. Bost, who is featured first in this clip, and then Rieck:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.