The gunman who opened fire on a congressional baseball team in Virginia kept a local storage locker with more than 200 rounds of ammunition that he visited daily, including less than an hour before he shot more than 60 times at the GOP team during a morning practice last week.
A list containing the names of six members of Congress also was found on the gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, but FBI officials did not characterize it as a “hit list” or as individuals being targeted.
On Wednesday, law enforcement officials provided updates on their investigation of the June 14 attack that wounded five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is still at a hospital but is now listed in fair condition.
Officials elaborated on Hodgkinson’s long-simmering political anger about Republicans and spiraling personal problems but still have not pinpointed what motivated the unemployed home inspector from Illinois to travel to the Washington area, where he spent months living in his van in Alexandria before launching the shootings.
At a news conference, Timothy R. Slater, FBI special agent in charge, described Hodgkinson as a desperate man running out of money. He was having anger issues, taking prescription medication and was in a troubled marriage, the FBI said.
Hodgkinson was “struggling in all kinds of different ways,” said Slater, of the Washington Field Office.
The officials also described the shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria as more of a spontaneous incident rather than a meticulously planned one. There was no connection to terrorism, they said, and Hodgkinson acted alone.
In media interviews, Hodgkinson’s wife has noted that he left their Illinois home after saying he was headed to Washington to work on tax policy. In late March, local police were called when his Belleville neighbors complained of Hodgkinson firing rounds into pine trees near homes. On Wednesday, the FBI called that “target practice.”
The FBI said Hodgkinson arrived in Alexandria sometime in March and participated in a demonstration over tax reform on Tax Day. Sometime between April 15 and April 26, Hodgkinson also visited the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and had earlier emailed the offices of senators from Illinois.
For most of that window in April, Congress was not in session, and a Sanders spokesman said Wednesday that Hodgkinson did not meet with the senator.
Hodgkinson had volunteered for the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign in Iowa and displayed a photo of the senator on his Facebook page.
While in Washington, Hodgkinson’s phone shows he took photos of popular tourist spots, including the Washington Monument, the Supreme Court and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The FBI said it does not consider the photos “surveillance of intended targets,” but officials cautioned that they are still examining Hodgkinson’s activities.
In Alexandria, Hodgkinson became somewhat of a fixture at the YMCA, which is across the street from the field. He carried a laptop and a gym bag — but he was never working out. He would watch the field where the Republican baseball team had been practicing for about two months. Some regulars at the YMCA noticed him but later said they were never suspicious of him. Others described him as odd or a “sourpuss.”
The day before the attack, Hodgkinson engaged in a profane tirade against President Trump in a conversation with a mechanic in Alexandria, echoing some of the criticisms of Trump and Republicans he had posted on social media accounts.
The FBI confirmed Wednesday that an account from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who told reporters last week that he spoke briefly on the morning of the shooting with Hodgkinson, who asked him: “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” When he told Hodgkinson that the team members were Republicans, Hodgkinson stayed nearby.
Law enforcement officials declined to make public the names or political party affiliations of the six members of Congress included in the list found on Hodgkinson. There was “no context included” with the list, the officials said, and Hodgkinson “did not place any online posts of threats or references to members of Congress or the Congressional Baseball Game.”
Authorities also revealed that Hodgkinson had legally purchased a 7.62mm caliber SKS rifle in March 2003 and a 9mm handgun after the election in November. The rifle had been modified, the FBI said.
Hodgkinson usually visited his Alexandria storage locker between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., for a total of 43 times between April and June.
The day of the shooting, he went to the unit at 6:23 a.m. and left at 6:35 a.m. The shooting occurred shortly after 7 a.m., police have said.
Inside the storage unit, authorities found components for the SKS rifle, a receipt for the November 2016 gun purchase and 200 rounds of ammunition. Officials said they also searched the van Hodgkinson had been living out of, which was in the parking lot of the YMCA.
Law enforcement officials shared other details Wednesday that suggested Hodgkinson may have been planning to return to Illinois.
Two days before the shooting, a relative told investigators that he had left a message “seeking to return home.” On the night before the shooting, Hodgkinson’s computer showed he searched Google maps for a route from Alexandria to Belleville, Ill.
The group of lawmakers and staffers on the field last week were practicing for a charity game against a team of Democrats that was played the next day and raised over $1 million. Scalise was shot once and gravely injured. He underwent several surgeries at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. On Wednesday, hospital officials said he “continues to make good progress” and is “beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation.”
A lobbyist, a congressional aide and a U.S. Capitol Police officer were also shot in the incident. Another U.S. Capitol Police officer was struck by shrapnel, and Rep. Roger Williams (R-Tex.) injured his ankle while helping others take cover.
The officers, who were assigned to Scalise’s security detail, exchanged gunfire with Hodgkinson and were credited with helping prevent more people from being injured that day.