The official report on June’s assault on a GOP baseball team in suburban Washington released Friday, says shooter James Hodgkinson of Belleville likely was planning the attack as early as last April. Four people were wounded in the attack, including Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Hodgkinson travelled to DC in March, announcing to his family he was going to “protest and talk about taxes.”
The report, issued by the Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Alexandria, says Hodgkinson drove his Ford conversion van to Washington and ended up living in that van in the Alexandria area, joining a YMCA to use the showers, and renting a storage unit where he reportedly stored his firearms and ammunition.
Files on his phone show that Hodgkinson recorded the field in April, and other witnesses remembered seeing him walking around Simpson Field in May.
“From these facts,” the report says, “it may be inferred that the suspect had already selected Simpson Field as a potential target as early as April 2017.”
The report says a citizen has reported seeing Hodgkinson at the Simpson Field shooting site on June 10, four days before the attack. The citizen is quoted as saying they believed the suspect had been “casing” the field.
Plus, at least one of the team members remembered seeing Hodgkinson sitting in the stands watching the team practice the morning before the incident.
Early on the morning of the assault, investigators said Hodgkinson approached two members of the congressional baseball team who were preparing to leave early, asking them whether the practice was for a Republican or Democratic team. Told it was Republicans on the field, “he said ok thanks, and walked away.”
“The suspect then went to his nearby van, and retrieved the black SKS-style assault rifle,” the report said.
Hodgkinson had loaded the weapon with 40 rounds in a so-called “banana” magazine. He had another 40 round magazine on his person, as well as his handgun which was in a holster and loaded with 8 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Firing from the third base line, the report says the gunman fired at least 33 rounds from that position, before taking up another spot behind home plate, where he began firing again. He fired a total of 70 rounds from both weapons before eventually being shot and killed by officers from Alexandria and the U.S. Capitol Police.
“The agents and officers should be commended for their bravery and service,” the Commonwealth Attorney stated. “As others ran from the suspect, they engaged him and ran towards the danger.”
Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner was also wounded in the attack.
“The evidence in this case establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect, fueled by rage against Republican legislators, decided to commit an act of terrorism,” the report states. “The suspect…ambushed a peaceful assembly of people practicing baseball and began to fire indiscriminately in an effort to kill and maim as many people as possible.”
The report says the semi-automatic weapon used in the attack was legally purchased by Hodgkinson here in Illinois in March 2003. He also had a handgun during the assault, which he purchased it legally at a different Illinois dealer in November of last year.
“There was nothing in his background that would have legally prevented these sales,” the report states. “And no evidence that the firearms dealers did anything illegal.”