WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – Early Wednesday morning, a 66-year old gunman opened fire on a group of Republican Congressman, while they were practicing for a charity baseball game to be held against Democratic Congressmen the following day.
James T. Hodgkinson shot and wounded five people, before being fatally struck by the security detail of the most senior Congressman present: Rep. Steve Scalise, the third-ranking figure in the House of Representatives.
Scalise was Hodgkinson’s first target, and he remains in critical condition following surgery. Two of his security detail—a man and a woman——were also wounded, as was a congressional aide and a young lobbyist, who, like Scalise, remains in critical condition.
Hodgkinson had been an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders, the left-leaning Vermont senator, who challenged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. His social media posts revealed a loathing of President Donald Trump, although those who knew Hodgkinson in his hometown in southern Illinois described him as being “in control,” even as they acknowledged he was angry about the current political climate.
“I guess he was tired of some of the politics going on,” a friend told The Washington Post. “We have politicians collecting a check and doing absolutely nothing for us.”
Hodgkinson arrived in the Washington DC area in late March and lived out of a white van that he kept in Alexandria, Virginia, a picturesque town some ten miles south of the US capital along the Potomac River.
It is not known why Hodgkinson came to Washington then. He had allowed his business license—as a housing inspector—to expire in November, following the presidential elections.
Hodgkinson spent much of his time in the weeks before the shooting hanging out at a local YMCA (Young Man’s Christian Association) facility that abuts the field where the Congressmen played ball. The YMCA includes a gym, where he regularly showered, even as the long hours that he spent there bothered some of the staff.
Very soon after Wednesday’s shootings, local media declared that they were not a terrorist attack. However, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) soon took over the investigation, as the fact that Congressman and his entourage were the victims made the shootings a federal crime.
The FBI spokesman immediately made clear that the Bureau had not ruled out the possibility of terrorism and was investigating all angles.
The FBI is now seeking information from people who knew Hodgkinson. They want to know his motive. It is one thing to be angry at the US president. Many people are, and American politics are polarized to an unusual degree. However, it is quite another matter to carry out a mass shooting.
Another important question for the FBI is whether any other people were involved, perhaps in recruiting or even assisting Hodgkinson.
After all, social media and the internet make it easy to identify disturbed individuals who might be manipulated and to communicate discretely with them, as a former US intelligence official suggested to Kurdistan24.
A typical reaction to such events in Western countries—whether they prove to be terrorism or simply the act of some deranged individual—is for people to affirm that they have not been intimidated.
So the baseball game will be played as scheduled on Thursday evening. It is a century-old tradition, and Wednesday’s terrible events will not be allowed to disrupt it. Indeed, most likely, the shootings will increase attendance at the game, along with the money that it raises for local charities.
Editing by G.H. Renaud