The suspect who authorities say fired on Republican lawmakers as they played baseball on Wednesday raged against Republican U.S. President Donald Trump on social media and idolized Bernie Sanders, who he viewed as the only politician who understood the working class.
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A senior U.S. official named the gunman as James T. Hodgkinson from the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois. Media reports said he was a 66-year-old home inspector. He died from injuries sustained in a shoot-out with Capitol Hill police who were at the scene in Alexandria, Virginia.
He is believed by investigators to have been a person "of strong views," the U.S. official said, without elaborating.
The Belleville News-Democrat, the local newspaper, posted a photo of Hodgkinson protesting outside a post office there in 2012, wearing sunglasses and a goatee and holding a homemade placard that read "TAX the Rich."
Hodgkinson was a member of many anti-Republican groups on Facebook including "The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans," "Terminate The Republican Party," and "Donald Trump is not my President," a search of what appeared to be his profile showed.
Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November and took office in January. Republicans also control both chambers of Congress.
"Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co." Hodgkinson wrote in a March 22 post that linked to a Change.org petition calling for the removal of Trump from office.
His timeline was headed by a cover photograph of Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who campaigned unsuccessfully to be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate last year.
Hodgkinson's profile picture was a U.S. flag overlaid with the slogan, "Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: 'We the People.' Since 1776."
According to media reports, Hodgkinson owned a home inspection business called JTH Inspections. Its license expired in November last year and was not renewed, the reports said.
Hodgkinson was charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, according to state records. The charges were dismissed, the records show.
He pleaded guilty to a 2007 speeding offense, driving 15 to 20 miles per hour over the limit, according to court records in Jefferson County, Illinois. The records identified him as a five-foot, six-inch (1.67-meter) man weighing 190 pounds (86 kg), with brown eyes.
According to his Facebook profile, Hodgkinson went to Belleville Township High School West and studied flight training at Southwestern Illinois College.
A review of his online posts stretching back several years found that his public posts were almost exclusively about politics, and that they often sharply criticized Republican politicians and policies.
Among the most frequent topics Hodgkinson wrote about were income inequality and money in politics. He referred to Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that eased regulation of campaign spending, as "Citizens Divided."
Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday that the suspected gunman was somebody who had "apparently volunteered" on his presidential campaign. He condemned the shooting, saying he was "sickened by this despicable act."
Beginning around the summer of 2015, Hodgkinson began often expressing enthusiastic support for Sanders' 2016 campaign.
Sanders, an independent, ran an insurgent campaign during the Democratic primary as a progressive populist on a platform that promised to increase taxes on the wealthy and broaden the social safety net in the United States. He was defeated in the nominating contests by Hillary Clinton.
"Bernie is the Only Candidate in Decades that Really Cares about the Working Class," Hodgkinson posted on June 13, 2016.