James T. Hodgkinson was furious over the “rise” of President Donald Trump, this according to the shooter’s brother. James T. Hodgkinson lived out of his van in the Northern Virginia suburbs and took showers at the Y.M.C.A. James Hodgkinson also posted criticism of President Trump and pledged allegiance to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Facebook. Neighbors complained to the police of his practicing his shooting near their home.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., at members of the Republican congressional team practicing shortly after 7 a.m. on Wednesday. In all, four people were shot, including Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the majority whip and third-ranking Republican in the House. An ensuing firefight with the police eventually led to the death of Hodgkinson.
The suspect’s brother, Michael Hodgkinson said Mr. Hodgkinson was a critic of Trump, upset over last fall’s election and intent on bringing his protest to Washington.
“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, said. “Totally out of the blue,” he added, saying that his brother was engaged in politics but otherwise led a normal life.
“He seemed like a loner,” said William D. Euille, Alexandria’s mayor from 2003 to 2016, who came to know Mr. Hodgkinson during regular morning stops at the Y.M.C.A. “But very nice.”
For much of his adult life, Mr. Hodgkinson lived in a two-story home on the outskirts of Belleville. Hodgkinson worked for years in construction and then shifted to the home inspection business, starting his own company, JTH Inspections.
Charlene Brennan, a real estate agent in Belleville, said Mr. Hodgkinson had conducted inspections for housing sales she worked on over the years.
“He did not come off as a radical,” Ms. Brennan said. “He did not come off as an unstable individual. He wasn’t belligerent. He was just kind of a normal guy.”
Mr. Hodgkinson posted on Facebook Tuesday morning: “How does a bill work?” “That’s an easy one, Billy,” the cartoon reads. “Corporations write the bill and then bribe congress until it becomes law.” “That’s Exactly How It Works. …” Mr. Hodgkinson wrote.
The page was filled with references to Bernie. Sanders, who has called on Democrats to endorse more progressive politics since losing the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton last year.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Sanders condemned violence of any type. “I am sickened by this despicable act,” he wrote. “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
Friends and acquaintances said they were stunned by Wednesday’s shooting. Dale Walsh, who identified himself as a friend who knew him as Tommy, said Mr. Hodgkinson had been a vibrant presence when he was younger.
“He wasn’t evil,” he said. “I guess he was tired of the politics.”
According to the sheriff’s department, in April 2006, Mr. Hodgkinson forced his way into a neighbor’s home to find his daughter, grabbed her by the hair and in an ensuing exchange punched his daughter’s friend in the face. The boyfriend of the daughter’s friend confronted Mr. Hodgkinson, who had answered the door with a shotgun aimed at his face and struck him with it.
Mr. Hodgkinson was charged with domestic battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm and criminal damage to a motor vehicle. The charges were later dismissed.