Virginia shooter who targeted GOP baseball practice had history of violence against women
The man who is suspected of shooting at GOP members of Congress during practice for their annual baseball game on Wednesday morning, wounding at least five people, has been accused of committing several violent acts against women.
James T. Hodgkinson, who died from injuries during the incident, was arrested for assaulting a woman in 2006, according to NBC News, when she tried to get involved in a domestic dispute. The outlet initially reported the woman was Hodgkinson’s girlfriend at the time, then clarified that she was the girlfriend of a witness.
According to a police report about the incident, reviewed by The Daily Beast, Hodgkinson became upset when his daughter refused to leave with him and was also seen throwing his daughter around a bedroom when she refused. He reportedly hit her arms and pulled her hair. The woman who was assaulted, Aimee Moreland, said she would call the police and Hodgkinson then punched her in the face. Domestic abuse charges brought against him for this incident were eventually dropped.
Hodgkinson posted anti-Trump messages on social media and was critical of Republican policies, leading to a rush to blame “liberal rhetoric” for the tragedy in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
But given what we know about mass shootings, violence against and hatred toward girls and women is a more common predictor of committing mass acts of violence than opposition to Republican policies or politicians is.
Hodgkinson is just one of many mass shooters who have documented histories of violence toward women, but who end up being able to access weapons anyway because this red flag goes unnoticed.
On March 24, neighbor William Schaumleffel called the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office to complain that Hodgkinson had fired approximately 15 shots outside. A responding officer found Hodgkinson shooting into nearby trees and advised him to stop, according to a sheriff’s report, which added that Hodgkinson had a valid firearm license.
“I thought, my God, what is that guy shooting?” Schaumleffel recalled. …
Hodgkinson had a history of violence that did not rise to the level to prohibit him from legally owning a firearm.
Hodgkinson was the foster the father of at least two girls. The first, Wanda Ashley Stock, 17, committed suicide in 1996 by pouring gasoline on herself and setting herself on fire after a few months of living with the Hodgkinsons, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. The Hodgkinsons gave an interview to the paper after her suicide, calling her a “very practical, level-headed girl.”
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would not release Hodgkinson’s foster record to The Daily Beast, citing privacy laws.
In 2002, Hodgkinson became the foster father of another girl whom he allegedly abused.
In 2006, he was arrested for domestic battery and discharge of a firearm after he stormed into a neighbor’s home where his teenage foster daughter was visiting with a friend. In a skirmish, he punched his foster daughter’s then 19-year-old friend Aimee Moreland “in the face with a closed fist,” according to a police report reviewed by The Daily Beast. When Moreland’s boyfriend walked outside of the residence where Moreland and Hodgkinson’s foster daughter were, he allegedly aimed a shotgun at the boyfriend and later fired one round. The Hodgkinsons later lost custody of that foster daughter.
“[Hodgkinson] fired a couple of warning shots and then hit my boyfriend with the butt of the gun,” Moreland told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
Hodgkinson was also “observed throwing” his daughter “around the bedroom,” the police report said. After the girl broke free, Hodgkinson followed and “started hitting her arms, pulling her hair, and started grabbing her off the bed.”
Moreland said Hodgkinson’s daughter “told me a lot of stories that he was really awful to her.”
“According to his foster daughter, he was always angry,” Moreland said. “She was really unhappy there. She had come over to get away from them.”
When Moreland tried escaping with Hodgkinson’s daughter in a vehicle, Hodgkinson reached inside and “turned off the ignition,” the report said.
“We were panicked and when I tried to reverse, I hit neutral instead and he opened my car door and hit me, and then came to her car door and pulled out a knife and cut her seatbelt and dragged her out,” Moreland said. “She was only 15 or 16, I think. She was so tiny.”
“Do I think he’s capable of [the shooting]?” Moreland said. “Definitely.”
“It sounds really awful, but I’m not surprised,” she said. “Every interaction I’ve had I’ve thought, ‘that guy’s crazy.'”
At court, Hodgkinson was no less angry. Moreland said that at an initial court appearance, Hodgkinson had to be removed from the courtroom after a series of eruptions.
“Every time the judge would talk to me, he would have an outburst and start screaming,” Moreland said.
The charges were dismissed, Moreland said, after she got her dates “mixed up” and failed to appear on time for a second court date.