Man who shot congressman was living in van

2017-06-15 19:49
A white van with Illinois licence plates has been searched by the FBI after a shooting during a baseball practice session. (Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

A white van with Illinois licence plates has been searched by the FBI after a shooting during a baseball practice session. (Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

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Alexandria - The gunman who wounded a top Republican congressman and several others during an early morning baseball practice had apparently been living out of a white van for months and was frequently seen working on a computer at a nearby YMCA, where he kept mostly to himself.

James T Hodgkinson shot House Republican Steve Scalise on Wednesday before he was fatally shot by police who had been guarding the House majority whip on the Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field, officials said. Scalise in the meantime underwent surgery for the third time a short while ago after being shot on Wednesday morning.

Authorities believe Hodgkinson, 66, had been living out of a van in northern Virginia since March after leaving his southern Illinois home. The man expressed grievances online about President Donald Trump and Republicans, but authorities said they're still working to determine a motive.

Political parties

Hodgkinson was spotted regularly over the past several weeks at the YMCA next to the site of the shooting, sitting with a computer in the lobby or at a table in an exercise area that looked out onto the baseball field.

Former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, who chatted with Hodgkinson at the gym, said he assumed the man was homeless because he wore pretty much the same outfit every day and carried a bag full of extra clothes. Hodgkinson rarely joined in the political discussions often set off by the television in the room and never showed any signs that he was troubled, Euille said.

"I never saw him get mad when people were talking good, bad or ugly about any of the political parties," said Euille.

"He was just a very calm, rational person, I thought," he said.

Hodgkinson, who was armed with a handgun and a rifle, died from multiple gunshot wounds to his torso, the FBI said. Federal investigators are working to trace his weapons to find out where they were purchased and other details about their history.

Texas Republican Roger Williams said one of his aides, Zack Barth, was shot but was doing well and expected to recover fully. Two Capitol Police officers sustained relatively minor injuries. A former congressional aide was admitted to hospital.

Presidential nomination

The FBI said authorities are speaking with people who knew Hodgkinson or who may have encountered him. FBI agent Tim Slater said the FBI needs the public's help in piecing together Hodgkinson's whereabouts and activities while he was in Alexandria.

His Facebook page shows he was a fan of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who last year made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders acknowledged on Wednesday that Hodgkinson had apparently been among many volunteers on his 2016 campaign.

Read more on:    steve scalise  |  us

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