A dispatch from Washington Post contributor Kurt Shillinger, who is in Belleville, Ill., and reporter Tom Jackman, who is in Washington:
It appears that James Hodgkinson was recently taking target practice with a rifle in the lightly populated neighborhood where he lived, in the unincorporated area outside of Belleville. Police encountered Hodgkinson on March 24, records from the St. Clair County Sheriff show. The sheriff received a phone call reporting about 50 shots “in the pine trees” at the end of the short street where Hodgkinson lived.
A deputy responded shortly after 3:05 p.m. and found that Hodgkinson “did have in his possession a valid Illinois FOID [firearms owner identification] card,” and that the deputy advised Hodgkinson “to not discharge his weapon in the area.”
Hodgkinson apparently complied and the deputy left without taking any further action.
Karman and Bill Schaumleffel, neighbors across a small cornfield on the back edge of the Hodgkinson property, recall seeing a man firing a rifle out into the field about two or three months ago. The shots followed in a rapid, steady staccato as if, they said, from a semiautomatic rifle, and the police report shows they called 911.
The Schaumleffels said Hodgkinson kept to himself.