The shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June and the methods of the gunman behind it are described in the starkest detail yet in a report released Friday by Virginia officials.
James Hodgkinson, the 66-year-old shooter, had taken cellphone video of the field where the Republican team practiced as far back as April, and had been spotted by neighbors “casing” the area in the months preceding the attack, according to the report, written by the commonwealth’s attorney for the city of Alexandria.
One member of the baseball team remembered seeing Hodgkinson sitting in the stands of Simpson Field and watching the team practice the morning before the incident, the report reveals.
In a minute-by-minute account of the attack, which left GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise critically injured and several others hurt, the report also describes how Hodgkinson shifted position around the field while firing off at least 70 rounds, most of them from an assault rifle.
Capitol Police officers on Scalise’s detail fired 25 rounds back at Hodgkinson, pinning him down and keeping “his attention from returning to the unarmed baseball players” while backup from the Alexandria Police Department arrived.
Hodgkinson was eventually handcuffed after being hit three times by the return fire, first by Alexandria Police Officer Alexander Jensen, the report says. Hodgkinson later died from the gunshot wounds at the George Washington University Hospital.
The report also offers a window into the life of the shooter in the year leading to the attack. Hodgkinson, living in Illinois, had stopped working and was in financial distress by late 2016, the report says. He was “increasingly making vague statements about how he would ‘not be around much longer’ to family members” and “spent a significant amount of time on social media,” espousing strong support for Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
When he moved to Washington, DC, in March of 2017, Hodgkinson told his family he was going to “protest” and “talk about taxes,” the report says. Hodgkinson lived out of his white Ford van and rented a small storage unit to store his firearms and ammunition, the report says.
The report is based on dozens of eyewitness interviews and the more than 200 pieces of physical evidence collected from the crime scene.
The purpose of the report, writes Bryan Porter, the commonwealth attorney, was to determine whether the use of deadly force by members of the responding police forces was legally justified. The report determined the use of force was in accordance with law.