Former Alexandria mayor Bill Euille said he had talked with alleged shooter James T. Hodgkinson nearly every morning for the past month and a half and even tried to help him find a job after he realized that the man was living out of his gym bag.
Euille (D), who lost a reelection bid last year and was the city’s first African American mayor, said that when he went to work out at the local YMCA between 7 and 7:30 a.m. each day, he usually saw Hodgkinson showering after his own workout. Euille’s habit is to work out, then go to the Y’s lobby and have coffee and read on his phone. Hodgkinson was always there, on his laptop.
They began talking after Hodgkinson heard people greeting Euille as “Mayor.” They never talked about political issues, but when the lobby television would show some political news and others would comment about President Trump, “he indicated he agreed with us,” Euille said.
“After the first or second week, he asked about good places to eat . . . within walking distance,” Euille said. “ A long weekend was coming up, and he asked what was going on in town. . . . That was the type of conversation we had.”
When Hodgkinson asked about available jobs, Euille, a general contractor, asked about his skills and learned that he was a home inspector. But when he forwarded some possibilities, Hodgkinson said he didn’t have a bachelor’s degree.
“He was a very friendly person,” Euille said. “But what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned. He was living out of the gym bag. That, and he sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours. Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town.”
Euille could not get to the YMCA this morning, because of the police lockdown. But when he exchanged messages with the Y’s manager, he was told that Hodgkinson had been in the gym and left about 7 a.m. and walked over toward the ballfield.