Breaking News Emails
The firearms recovered after a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice and injured five people in Alexandria, Virginia, appear to have been purchased legally, the FBI and other authorities said Thursday.
The FBI said James T. Hodgkinson, who was shot by police and later died of his wounds, bought the 7.62 caliber rifle and the 9 mm handgun that were recovered at the scene of the shooting from federally licensed gun dealers.
"We currently have no evidence to suggest that the purchases were not lawful," the FBI's Washington, D.C., field office and other federal, state and local law enforcement partners said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and three other people were wounded during the shooting Wednesday morning.
Scalise, who is the third-ranking Republican in the House, was hit in the left hip. MedStar Washington Hospital Center said Thursday night that he underwent more surgery Thursday and had improved but was still listed in critical condition.
"The Congressman will require additional operations, and will be in the hospital for some time," the hospital said.
President Donald Trump visited Scalise at the hospital Wednesday night with his wife, Melania Trump.
The FBI said in its statement Thursday that it had also processed Hodgkinson's van, which had been parked at a YMCA parking lot adjacent to the park where the attack took place.
The FBI said it had recovered and was processing a cellphone, a computer and a camera.
Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, was taken to the hospital, where he died. Witnesses described a "firefight" between the gunman and police.
Reps. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, and Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, told reporters Wednesday that the gunman approached them in their car and asked whether "Republicans or Democrats" were on the field before the shooting.
The suspect's wife, Susan Hodgkinson, said she and her husband of about 30 years had been separated after he left Illinois in March and that he "made preparations for leaving" to the Washington area.
"He sold almost everything he owned from his businesses," she said during emotional remarks to reporters Thursday afternoon.
Authorities have said they believed Hodgkinson had been living in the area since March.
Susan Hodgkinson declined to describe her husband's political beliefs, but she said her husband told her at the time that "he wanted to go up there and work with people to change the tax brackets."
She said she felt "horrible" and was "sorry that he did this."
"I had no idea this was going to happen, and I don’t know what to say about it," she said, her voice breaking. "I can't wrap my head around it."
Timothy Slater, head of the Criminal Division of the FBI's Washington field office, said Wednesday that the gunman's motives were still under investigation. He wouldn't comment when asked whether the suspect had a "vendetta against Republicans."
Hodgkinson has a history of arrests and was charged in 2006 with domestic battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm. At the time, police recovered a pocket knife and a 12-gauge shotgun at the scene.
The charges were dismissed, which meant there were no restrictions on his owning guns.
Police also responded to reports of gunshots at his Belleville home in late March, according to a police report. Callers reported hearing about 50 shots.
Police said they found Hodgkinson with a weapon in his possession and a valid Illinois firearms license. They told him not fire his weapon in the area, as there were homes nearby.
Hodgkinson told police he was taking target practice.
"He was very cordial, very nice, very understanding," St. Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson said Wednesday after speaking to one of the responding officers. "He had no reason to think he was doing anything illegal, immoral or anything."
His wife said Thursday afternoon that she wasn't aware that he had taken firearms with him when he left later that month.