Suspect in congressional shooting was Bernie Sanders supporter, strongly anti-Trump

James T. Hodgkinson, the man identified as shooting a Republican member of congress and four others on Wednesday morning, was a small business owner in Illinois who defined himself publicly by his firm support of Bernie Sanders' progressive politics -- and his hatred of conservatives and President Donald Trump.

This is based on CNN's review of Hodgkinson's Facebook profiles, public records, and three years of impassioned letters to his local newspaper.

"Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co." he posted on his personal Facebook page on March 22.

"Republicans are the Taliban of the USA," he posted in February.

Hodgkinson, 66, was married and lived in Belleville, Illinois. He started his own company, JTH Inspections, in 1994 and conducted home inspections and mold/air-quality testing.

But he quit that job on New Year's Eve last year, according to one of his two Facebook profiles. Illinois state records show that he dissolved his company on January 10.

Federal law enforcement identified Hodgkinson as the shooter who attacked Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force, Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia. President Trump said the gunman had been killed.

Hodgkinson's online presence was largely defined by his politics. For example, his public Facebook posts date back to 2012 and are nearly all about his support for leftist politics. He was passionate about tax hikes on the rich and universal health care.

In the past year, most of his Facebook posts consisted of signed petitions on Change.org with titles like: "Bernie -- please run no matter what;" "Hillary Rodham Clinton should concede the nomination to Bernie Sanders;" and "Healthcare for all Americans."

In one public post on May 24, he signed a petition to "Stop the NEXUS Pipeline" in Michigan and Ohio. After Hodgkinson's Facebook profiles were discovered by news reporters, they were updated to prevent public access.

On Wednesday, Senator Sanders publicly acknowledged that Hodgkinson had volunteered for his presidential campaign last year, but he denounced the violence as "despicable."

Hodgkinson's own descriptions on social media portray him as an avid consumer of political shows. His favorite television shows were listed as "Real Time with Bill Maher;" "The Rachel Maddow Show;" "Democracy Now!" and other left-leaning programs.

His favorite movie? The documentary "Inequality for All," featuring progressive economist Robert Reich.

He had also joined several anti-GOP Facebook groups, including "Terminate The Republican Party;" "The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans;" and "Join The Resistance Worldwide!!"

Public records that align with the alleged shooter's name and personal details also match the descriptions on Hodgkinson's Facebook profile: his business, location, wife, and wife's employer.

Federal Election Commission records show Hodgkinson donated $18 to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign through the fundraising platform ACT Blue in 2015 and 2016.

A police report in Illinois also details one incident in 2006 with Hodgkinson's daughter and her friends -- one that involved a gun. When Hodgkinson's daughter was at a female friend's home, he and his wife allegedly tried to take her away from there.

The report says Hodgkinson resorted to dragging his daughter out of her friend's car, slashing her seatbelt, and punching his daughter's friend in the face.

The young woman's boyfriend later confronted Hodgkinson, and Hodgkinson pulled out his shotgun, hit the younger man in the face with the wooden stock of the gun, then fired a single shot that missed. Hodgkinson was charged with two counts of battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm, criminal damage to a motor vehicle and two counts of domestic battery. Records show the case was dismissed later that year, though it's unclear why.

More on social media

On Facebook in 2015, Hodgkinson made at least one comment about the Republican congressman he is accused of eventually attacking in person.

"Here's a Republican that should Lose His Job, but they Gave Him a Raise," Hodgkinson said of Scalise, pointing to a cartoon about the congressman.

The cartoon -- which featured Scalise addressing a racist crowd of members of the Klu Klux Klan -- referenced how Scalise had been caught speaking to a white supremacist group more than a decade earlier when he was a state legislator in Louisiana.

Hodgkinson appears to have written more than a dozen letters to the Belleville News-Democrat, a local paper, from 2010 to 2012. One of the final letters from Hodgkinson, in July of 2012, called for President Obama's re-election and to "vote all Republicans out of Congress."

In the letters, he wrote extensively about income inequality and called repeatedly for higher taxes on the rich.

It is unclear how Hodgkinson obtained his firearms. Illinois tracks firearm owners -- but not their weapons. The state does not require firearm owners to register their firearms, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. And while Illinois does require anyone who wants to buy a gun to obtain a firearm owners identification card, those records are not immediately available. CNN has filed a public records request to obtain these records.

However, Hodgkinson had no hunting permits in Illinois, according to Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Hodgkinson studied aviation at what was then called Belleville Area College up until 1971. But there is no record of a degree being conferred to him, according to Jim Haverstick, the associate director at Southwestern Illinois College.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.