Hodgkinson took target practice in Belleville before leaving, neighbor says

BELLEVILLE, IL – The FBI renewed its call for information for anyone—from Belleville to Washington, D.C.—may have about congressional shooter James T. Hodgkinson.

Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican members of the United States Congress as they practiced for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday morning, authorities said. He wounded four people. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) remained in critical condition as of Thursday. Hodgkinson, 66, was killed by return fire.

One of the last encounters anyone had with Hodgkinson in Belleville was March 24, near his home just outside the Belleville city limits.

Bill Schaumleffel, who lives near Hodgkinson's home, said he was outside shooting a rifle that day and wouldn't stop.

“I had two little grandkids out here, (ages) 6 and 3. They were playing on the swings. All of the sudden, I heard a couple of shots. It was loud,” he said. “I started yelling at him, ‘Hey, stop shooting; there’s houses over here. We’ve got kids over here in this yard.’”

Schaumleffel reported hearing about 50 shots. The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department responded. The shooting stopped.

Schaumleffel said he’s yet to speak to the FBI.

The FBI posted a notice asking for information about Hodgkinson, including these contact phone numbers: 202-278-2000 and 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Hodgkinson moved from Belleville to Alexandria, Virginia, not long after Schaumleffel’s “shots fired” call, the FBI reported. He’d been living in a van there.

Those who knew him around Belleville have said nothing suggested he was capable of the attack on members of Congress, in spite of his often stated, very strong, and well-documented anti-Republican views.

Schaumleffel never actually knew Hodgkinson said now he’d never forget the day he was out there shooting.

“You just wonder if he just flipped. I hated to see what he’d done up there. I’m glad they took care that he didn’t get to do it again,” Schaumleffel said.

The gun Hodgkinson was firing in Belleville that day did not appear to be one he used in Alexandria.

The FBI has recovered and processed his van, weapons, and cell phone in Virginia. The weapons had been legally purchased, the FBI reported.