Congressional gunman had a history of domestic violence

The Daily Beast reports: The gunman who attacked members of Congress on Wednesday morning, wounding a GOP leader, had a long history of domestic violence that included the use of a gun and hated Republicans.

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on a congressional baseball practice outside of Washington, D.C., a senior law-enforcement official told The Daily Beast. Hodgkinson was killed by police.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, two Capitol Police officers, and congressional staffers were wounded. They are all expected to survive, according to police.

Hodgkinson may have practiced before the attack, a neighbor told The Daily Beast.

On March 24, neighbor William Schaumleffel called the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office to complain that Hodgkinson had fired approximately 15 shots outside. A responding officer found Hodgkinson shooting into nearby trees and advised him to stop, according to a sheriff’s report, which added that Hodgkinson had a valid firearm license.

“I thought, my God, what is that guy shooting?” Schaumleffel recalled.

He told The Daily Beast that he was out in his backyard with his grandchildren when the shooting started. He heard one shot, then another, and then three in rapid succession.

Hodgkinson held the gun to his shoulder and fired across Schaumleffel’s field, he said. Schaumleffel said he yelled to him to say that there were houses in that direction and that he should stop, but wasn’t sure if he heard him.

The shooting started again, in what Schaumleffel now calls “target practice.”

“I told my wife, hey, I’m gonna call the sheriff. He’s liable to turn the gun on us,” Schaumleffel said.

Schaumleffel said had never met the Hodgkinson, and said that almost everyone in the neighborhood owned a gun. But no one starts shooting randomly, into the distance, like Hodgkinson did.

“He was being very reckless that day,” Schaumleffel said.

Shortly after the incident, Hodgkinson reportedly left Illinois and was living in Virginia.

Hodgkinson had a history of violence that did not rise to the level to prohibit him from legally owning a firearm.

Hodgkinson was the foster father of at least two girls. The first, Wanda Ashley Stock, 17, committed suicide in 1996 by pouring gasoline on herself and setting herself on fire after a few months of living with the Hodgkinsons, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. The Hodgkinsons gave an interview to the paper after her suicide, calling her a “very practical, level-headed girl.”

Privacy laws do not allow the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to release foster records.

In 2002, Hodgkinson became the foster father of another girl whom he allegedly abused, according to police record. [Continue reading…]

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