Shooter Disappeared From Illinois After Erratic Behavior

(CBS) — The big question everyone’s asking today: Why?

2 Investigator Dave Savini has been looking into James T. Hodgkinson’s activities in the months leading up to Wednesday’s shooting.

In the months before traveling to Virginia to fire a wave a bullets on lawmakers, Hodgkinson had been nowhere to be seen, according to neighbors in his stomping grounds of Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis.

It’s a place where he had been arrested many times before.

A social media timeline shows the 66-year-old home appraiser and real estate inspector had been spouting off about politics — nothing unusual for the man who was known to publicly protest and voice his opinion.

On May 22, he posted on Facebook, calling President Trump a “traitor,” and writing: “It’s time to destroy Trump & Co.”

It is not clear if he was already near Washington D.C. at that point, but his wife reportedly said he left their Belleville home two months ago. Just Tuesday, he posted a political cartoon that lashed out at corporate influence in Washington.

Hodgkinson appears to have had a legal firearms owners identification (FOID) card, despite  numerous misdemeanor cases such as a 2006 domestic battery that included the aggravated discharge of a firearm.

According to the complaint, Hodgkinson had fired shots outside a home and punched his daughter in the face, pulled her hair and threw her around a bedroom.

Had he been convicted in that case, he would have lost his right to ever to legally own firearms. But the charges were dropped.

The ATF is now tracking the history of the weapons used Tuesday.

His most recent contact with police appears to be as recent as March of this year. Someone called the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office to complain they heard 50 shots near a neighborhood.

Police now say that shooter was Hodgkinson. He had a hunting rifle but was not charged because he had a valid FOID card.

WBBM’s Bob Roberts spoke with neighbor William Schaumleffel, who says Hodgkinson appeared to take target practice on a stand of trees near his home, firing across Schaumleffel’s property while Schaumleffel’s 6-year-old granddaughter and 3-year-old grandson  played outside.

“I yelled, ‘Stop that shooting. There’s houses over there and kids around.’ I don’t think that I was loud enough, that he heard me, or if he heard me, he  ignored me,” Schaumleffel said.

The neighbor called 911 and summoned St. Clair County sheriff’s police; he said that when police arrived, the shooting stopped.

Schaumleffel said the rest of the 10 families in the immediate neighborhood were cordial but said the Hodgkinsons were not.

 

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