James Hodgkinson, who opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for the annual congressional baseball game today, reportedly scouted the location for weeks. The New York Post reported that Hodgkinson would frequent the local YMCA, which is across the street from the Eugene Simpson Park, speaking with the former mayor of Alexandria in the process (via NY Post):
Alexandria shooter James Hodgkinson lived out of a gym bag and hung out for the past month and a half at the YMCA across the street from where he opened fire, according to a report Wednesday.
Bill Euille, former mayor of Alexandria, said he and Hodgkinson spoke almost every day at the Y, where the alleged gunman would be seen working on his laptop, the Washington Post reported.
“He was a very friendly person. But what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned,” said Euille, who lost his reelection bid last year. “He was living out of the gym bag. That, and he sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours. Outside of myself and, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town.”
Euille goes to the Y to work out around 7 and 7:30 a.m. every day and usually saw Hodgkinson, 66, showering.
Hodgkinson hit Euille up for potential jobs in the area but when opportunities came his way, Hodgkinson admitted he didn’t have a bachelor’s degree.
Euille said he traded texts with the Y’s manager, who said Hodgkinson had been at the gym and left around 7 a.m.Wednesday – before walking over to the nearby baseball field where he opened fire at lawmakers who were practicing for the upcoming Congressional game.
Another Y member, Stephen Brennwald, said he’d regularly see Hodgkinson at the gym — but never in workout gear.
“He never worked out. He never talked to anybody. He never did anything,” Brennwald told the Washington Post. “He’d just sit there and stare at his laptop.”
And when he wasn’t on his laptop, he’d stare out the window — at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, where the shooting occurred.
“He had this kind of faraway stare,” Brennwald said.
Hodgkinson had recently moved to Alexandria, his wife told ABC News.
The Daily Beast also found a troubling legal history on Hodgkinson, which included arrests for domestic battery:
Hodgkinson had a history of violence. In 2006, he was arrested for domestic battery and discharge of a firearm after he punched a man’s girlfriend “in the face with a closed fist,” according to a police report reviewed by The Daily Beast. When the man walked outside of the residence, Hodgkinson aimed a shotgun at him and later fired one round.
Hodgkinson was also “observed throwing” an unidentified minor “around the bedroom,” the police report said. Police identified the girl as his daughter. After the girl broke free, Hodgkinson followed and “started hitting her arms, pulling her hair, and started grabbing her off the bed.”
When Hodgkinson’s girlfriend tried to leave in a vehicle, he reached inside and “turned off the ignition,” the report said. “James then pulled out a possible pocket knife and cut [her] seatbelt.”
The charges were dismissed, according to court records.
Many questions remain in the aftermath of this tragedy. The U.S. Capitol Police, who were present at the scene protecting Rep. Scalise, are heroes. In fact, given that Mr. Scalise is a member of the GOP leadership, he has a security detail. Without him there, the chances of multiple deaths would have increased dramatically. Check out the video below, where a witness captured the gunfire [Warning: some graphic content]: