A Facebook user by the name of James Thomas Hodgkinson, the Illinois man said to be the alleged shooter at Wednesday morning’s GOP baseball practice, posted an explicit comment to the social networking website earlier this week about Georgia 6th Congressional District Republican candidate Karen Handel.
“Republican [expletive] Wants People to Work for Slave Wages, when a Livable Wage is the Only Way to Go! Vote Blue, It’s Right for You!” the user posted to his account on June 8. He linked to a Yahoo news story about Handel’s comments on the minimum wage during last week’s first 6th District debate with Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Democrats were quick to pounce on Handel’s comment “I do not support a livable wage” after the former Georgia secretary of state uttered it during the first of two televised debates. Handel later said her comment emphasized the widely watched race’s sharp policy divides.
The shooter injured several people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Multiple news organizations identified Hodgkinson as the shooter. President Donald Trump reported that the shooter died in a hospital. The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that Scalise was in critical condition following surgery.
Handel’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Hodgkinson’s Facebook post. Earlier on Wednesday morning, Handel tweeted that she and her husband were sending “our thoughts & prayers to Rep. Scalise, Capitol Police, staff, & everyone affected by this horrific attack.”
Handel canceled her public events for Wednesday night.
Ossoff described the Facebook post as “sickening.”
“I condemn this appalling act of violence committed, obviously, by a disturbed individual,” Ossoff said. “The country is united right now in our prayers for those who are fighting for their lives and our appreciation of those who saved lives.”
Hodgkinson's local newspaper, The Belleville News-Democrat, reported that he frequently wrote letters to the paper protesting against Republicans and tax policies and supporting the legalization of marijuana.
Trump’s election as president was disturbing to Hodgkinson, who had also traveled recently to Washington to participate in protests, his brother told The New York Times.
“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” Michael Hodgkinson said.
Hodgkinson also apparently worked as a volunteer with Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign and filed a number posts on Facebook opposing Trump.
Sanders responded to Wednesday’s shooting by saying he was “sickened by this despicable act.”
When asked about Hodgkinson’s Facebook post in an interview Wednesday morning, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he was “not one to try to presume what the motivations are.”
“I just know that we live in an environment in which anyone who is involved in political life is subject to being attacked,” he said. “That’s something we have never anticipated, perhaps years ago, but it now becomes a reality with events like this.”
Deal continued, “It requires all of us to be vigilant — but it’s the type of random act that no one can really prepare for.”
The same man also reportedly shared a political cartoon by Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoonist Mike Luckovich on his Facebook account last month.
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