Shooter of GOP lawmakers was a fan of Bernie Sanders
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Shooter of GOP lawmakers was a fan of Bernie Sanders

Illinois resident James T. Hodgkinson had multiple run-ins with the law, was killed by police after opening fire on Republican congressmen

James Hodgkinson protests outside the United States Post Office in Downtown Belleville, Illinois, April 17, 2012. (Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat, via AP)
James Hodgkinson protests outside the United States Post Office in Downtown Belleville, Illinois, April 17, 2012. (Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat, via AP)

The gunman who opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice Wednesday has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, a strong supporter of leftist Senator Bernie Sanders who had several minor run-ins with the law in recent years.

US media identified Hodgkinson, who died following a shootout with police in the Virginia suburb of Alexandria, as a 66-year-old from Belleville Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis.

Sanders swiftly responded to the reports, saying he was “sickened” by what he called a “despicable act.”

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” said a statement from the former Democratic presidential hopeful.

“I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

According to his Facebook page, Hodgkinson was a fervent supporter of Sanders, the feisty independent who almost defeated Hillary Clinton last year in a tough fight for the Democratic White House nomination.

Bernie Sanders speaking to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 21, 2017. (George Frey/Getty Images, via JTA)
Bernie Sanders speaking to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 21, 2017. (George Frey/Getty Images, via JTA)

He attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and through the end of last year worked for JTH Inspections, the Facebook page indicates.

Posts from last year show he was adamantly opposed to Clinton, and, after the election, to President Donald Trump.

In March, he endorsed a petition from left-leaning activist group Change.Org branding Trump a “traitor” who “has destroyed our democracy.”

“It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” it said.

But there were no signs of violent sentiments on his Facebook page.

He also wrote frequent letters to his hometown newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, which published nearly two dozen letters between 2010 and 2012, many of which included complaints about the same theme: income inequality.

Investigators gather near the scene of a shooting June 14, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)
Investigators gather near the scene of a shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 14, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Hodgkinson compared the economic conditions of the time to those that preceded the Great Depression and excoriated Congress for not increasing the number of tax brackets and taking other tax reform measures.

On May 14, 2010, he wrote: “I don’t envy the rich; I despise the way they have bought our politicians and twisted our laws to their benefit.”

On March 4, 2011, he wrote that Congress should rewrite tax codes to ease the tax burdens of the middle class.

“Let’s get back to the good ol’ days, when our representatives had a backbone and a conscience,” he wrote.

Hodgkinson’s wife told ABC News on Wednesday that he had been living in Alexandria, Virginia, the location of the shooting, for the past two months.

Hodgkinson also had several minor run-ins with the law in recent years. Court records show that his legal trouble started in the 1990s with arrests for resisting police and drunken driving. His most serious problems apparently came in 2006, when he was arrested on a battery charge. Records indicate he has not been involved in any legal cases since 2011.

Hodgkinson was shot by law enforcement officers after opening fire at the early morning practice of a Republican baseball team.

He was transported to George Washington University Hospital, and later died.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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