'It's time to destroy Trump & Co.:' Scalise shooting suspect raged on Facebook

Donald Trump addressed the nation following a shooting at a practice for a congressional baseball game.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.— The 66-year-old Illinois man who opened fire early Wednesday on members of Congress practicing for a charity baseball game, raged against President Trump and once singled out House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was wounded in the attack.

"Here's a Republican that should lose his job, but they gave him a raise,'' James T. Hodgkinson allegedly wrote in a 2015 post to his Facebook account, referring to the Louisiana congressman. The message was accompanied by a cartoon depiction of Scalise.

Federal authorities said it was too early to determine whether the assault targeted members of Congress. But Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., raised the ominous prospect that the incident may have been politically motivated, saying that a man who appeared to match Hodgkinson's description approached him and others in the parking lot of the Alexandria, Va., baseball field to ask whether the practice involved Republicans or Democrats.

"Now, that I've seen the (suspect's) photo, I've got to believe that he was the guy,'' DeSantis said on MSNBC.

President Trump, in a statement from the White House Wednesday, said that Hodgkinson died at a local hospital from wounds suffered when officers returned fire on the Belleville, Ill., man who owned a home-inspection business.

In a March 22 Facebook post, Hodgkinson, who  turned his ire against Trump, who he described as a "traitor.''

"Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy,'' he said. "It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co."

In a post earlier this week, the suspect highlighted a campaign calling for the president's impeachment.

"Trump is Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason,'' Hodgkinson wrote.

A home inspector

Illinois business records show that the suspect owned JTH Inspections, which he claimed to have operated for more than 30 years.

"I have past licenses in construction, roofing, electrical, septic, appraisals and more,'' Hodgkinson said. "I am a certified member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. I adhere to all of their standards of practice and codes of ethics. I am also a proud member of the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants.''

One witness said she never saw the attacker's face but cowered in fear as the sound of the gunshots appeared to come closer, as she walked her dogs near the baseball field.

At first, Katie Filous said she thought the noise was related to a pitching machine at the field before hearing screams from the people gathered at the field.

"They were screaming, 'It's a shooter! He's got a rifle! Get down!' I laid down on the ground. There were a lot of shots. Maybe about 20."

From her vantage point behind a tree, she saw a security officer leave a nearby SUV and attempt to confront the shooter with a handgun.

"I saw the officer get hit, kind of slumping near the SUV," Filous said. "I saw two people being carried away on stretchers. The (wounded) officer was airlifted out.

"I was doing what I could to not get killed."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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