Authorities have identified the suspect in the Wednesday morning shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others as James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Belleville, Illinois. Early reports suggest the shooter might have been a Bernie Sanders supporter.
He was shot and killed by law enforcement officers in Alexandria, Virginia, during the attack, President Donald Trump announced during a televised appearance.
Hodgkinson owned a home inspection business but his license expired in November 2016 and was not renewed, according to state records obtained by the Washington Post.
The paper also reported that Hodgkinson was charged with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle in April 2006 in St. Clair County, Illinois. Those charges were subsequently dismissed.
Belleville is suspected of opening fire with a rifle on a group of Republicans early Wednesday morning during a practice session in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, for the GOP congressional baseball team.
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said the suspect, who was shot by two of his officers, is in custody. The shooting is being investigated as a criminal act rather than an act of terrorism, according to the Associated Press.
Five people were taken to area hospitals, including the gunman. A Capitol Hill aide and a female police officer were also shot, according to Fox News. Another police officer was also injured by fragments, the network reported.
Scalise was shot in the hip and is undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. Rep. Rand Paul told Fox News “it would have been a massacre” if not for Capitol Hill Police who were present as part of Scalise’s security detail.
“We had no defense at all,” Paul said. “We are so lucky they were there. They saved everybody’s life.”
Scalise, 51, of Louisiana, is the No. 3 House Republican leader. He was “in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone” before the surgery, his office said in a statement.
Scalise and several other GOP leaders and staff members were practicing for a bipartisan Congressional baseball game scheduled for Thursday evening. The lighthearted game is an annual tradition that raises money for local charities. The team was taking batting practice when the shooting began.
Many of the politicians were wearing red shirts that clearly identified them as Republicans, and the Democratic team was practicing at a separate location on Wednesday morning but was not attacked.
Scalise was standing on second base when he was shot, according to Rep. Mike Bishop, who spoke to a radio station in Detroit.
“I was looking right at him,” Bishop said. “He was a sitting duck.”
Rep. Mark Walker told NBC that the “gunman was there to kill as many Republican members as possible” but an official motive has not been announced. President Trump took to Twitter shortly after the incident, offering prayers for “true friend and patriot” Scalise and saying he will “fully recover.”