The nation is still reeling from the horrific violence unleashed on Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice for a charity game, and more details are surfacing that reveal the motivation of the deranged shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois.
Here’s the brutally violent history of the Virginia shooter.
One especially horrific episode has to do with the demise of one of his foster daughters, and what it suggests living with Hodgkinson might have been like.
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.”
Hodgkinson’s other foster daughter was taken away from him after a violent outburst where he beat her 19-year-old friend and her boyfriend while brandishing a gun in 2006. The Daily Beast spoke with her friend, Aimee Moreland, who told them, “[Hodgkinson] fired a couple of warning shots and then hit my boyfriend with the butt of the gun.” He was arrested for domestic violence and for discharge of a firearm.
According to Moreland, his daughter told her that Hodgkinson was always angry.
“She was really unhappy there,” Moreland said. “She had come over to get away from them.”
Moreland claims that she was told many stories of abuse by Hodgkinson from his foster daughter.
In another story told by Moreland, they tried to escape once but were caught by Hogkinson as they tried to drive away. He reached into the car, pulled the key out of the ignition, and then cut the seat belt his foster daughter had on with a knife. He dragged her out of the car angrily. She was 15 or 16 at the time.
The shooter had many more interactions with the police.
In June 2006, police were dispatched to Hodgkinson’s home in response to a domestic dispute that began when Hodgkinson allegedly hit a woman’s dog while it slept in her driveway, according to a sheriff’s report.
His political opinions were openly known as he posted often on social media, excoriating Republicans and calling President Doanld Trump a “traitor.” He followed Facebook groups called “Terminate the Republican Party,” “The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans,” and “Donald Trump is not my President.”
Moreland said that she thought Hodgkinson was “definitely” capable of the shooting in Virginia.
“It sounds really awful, but I’m not surprised,” she said. “Every interaction I’ve had I’ve thought, ‘that guy’s crazy.’”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) denounced the attack while noting that the shooter had worked on his presidential campaign. Hodgkinson even had a photo of Sanders as his background on Facebook. Some noted that Sanders had excoriated conservatives and blamed right-wing rhetoric when then-congresswoman Gabby Giffords was attacked in 2011.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is in critical condition after receiving a rifle shot to the pelvis. Four others were injured in the attack.