Law Enforcement Shares Findings of the Investigation into the June 14 Alexandria, Virginia Shooting
Today, law enforcement officials shared findings to date of the investigation into the shooting that occurred at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
The developments were announced by Andrew Vale, assistant director in charge, FBI Washington Field Office; Timothy R. Slater, special agent in charge, FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Michael L. Brown, Chief, Alexandria Police Department; Matthew R. Verderosa, chief, United States Capitol Police; and Michael B. Boxler, special agent in charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division.
Through information and evidence gathered in ongoing interviews, searches, and other investigative activity, investigators and analysts have gained a greater understanding of the recent movements and activities of deceased shooter James Thomas “Tom” Hodgkinson, 66. The FBI is investigating this shooting as an assault on a member of Congress and an assault on a federal officer. At this point in the investigation, the FBI does not believe there is a nexus to terrorism.
In March 2017, Hodgkinson, of Belleville, Illinois, told a family member that he was traveling to Washington D.C., but he did not provide any additional information on his travel. FBI analysis of Hodgkinson’s computers showed a Google search of truck stops, maps, and toll-free routes to the Northern Virginia area. Prior to his travel, local law enforcement in Belleville had been called to Hodgkinson’s residence due to complaints of target practice he was conducting on his property. Local law enforcement requested he keep the noise down but determined Hodgkinson was not in violation of any local laws. Hodgkinson’s prior criminal record includes a charge of domestic battery in 2006.
Evidence collected thus far indicates Hodgkinson had been in the Alexandria area since March 2017. On the morning of Wednesday, June 14, 2017, Hodgkinson, who was living in his vehicle, which was located in the parking lot of the YMCA on East Monroe Avenue, is believed to have exited his vehicle with two weapons, a 7.62mm caliber SKS rifle and a 9mm handgun, for which he had a holster on his person. He approached the baseball fields where practice for a Congressional charity baseball game was taking place. Acting alone, Hodgkinson shot in the vicinity of the field where members of Congress and staffers were standing. Immediately adjacent to the field were two United States Capitol Police special agents who were detailed to a member of Congress and who engaged Hodgkinson. Alexandria Police Department officers responded to the scene of shots fired and also engaged Hodgkinson who, over police radio, was reported down at 7:14 a.m.
The investigation thus far determined that Hodgkinson purchased his SKS 7.62mm caliber rifle in March 2003 and 9mm handgun in November 2016 legally through federal firearms licensees. The investigation has determined that there were cartridges found to be chambered in the SKS rifle and the FBI’s Evidence Response Team found 9mm and 7.62mm shell casings on scene. The SKS rifle was modified to accept a detachable magazine and the original stock was replaced with a folding stock.
The FBI and ATF processed property found in three locations and on Hodgkinson’s person. Law enforcement searched Hodgkinson’s vehicle at the scene of the shooting; a storage facility that he rented beginning April 16, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia; and his home in Belleville. Items found on Hodgkinson included a piece of paper that contained the names of six members of Congress. No context was included on this paper, however, a review of Hodgkinson’s web searches in the months prior to the shooting revealed only a cursory search of two of those members of Congress. A second document with a rough sketch of several streets in Washington, D.C. was found on Hodgkinson; however, it was not deemed to be of investigative significance.
Through researching an activity log at the storage facility, it was determined that Hodgkinson visited his unit more than 43 times between April and June, usually in the morning between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., however, sometimes twice a day. Contents of the storage facility yielded a laptop computer, more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a receipt for a November 2016 gun purchase and additional SKS rifle components.
The FBI found a laptop computer, a cell phone, and a digital camera in Hodgkinson’s vehicle. Analysis of the electronic media items recovered from Hodgkinson’s belongings assessed that Hodgkinson did not place any online posts of threats or references to members of Congress or the Congressional baseball game. Hodgkinson made numerous posts on all of his social media accounts espousing anti-Republican views, although all the posts reviewed thus far appear to be First Amendment-protected speech. The morning of the shooting, a witness reported Hodgkinson asking them, “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” When the witness responded that it was a Republican event, Hodgkinson reportedly remained at the baseball field.
Analysis of Hodgkinson’s laptop computers show online activity the night before the shooting; however, no Internet searches were discovered the morning of the shooting. The Internet searches Hodgkinson performed the night before the shooting included a Google map search from Alexandria to his home in Belleville and a Google search of the “2017 Republican Convention.” While online, he also accessed a financial account and one of his Facebook accounts, where he visited a news website to look up news highlights. Through witness accounts, Hodgkinson was reported to frequent the local libraries in Alexandria where he could obtain free Wi-Fi; however, he was unable to use the Alexandria Library computers as he was a non-resident and therefore not eligible for a local library card.
Analysis of Hodgkinson’s phone shows that he checked e-mail and utilized text messaging. In a witness interview, a family member of Hodgkinson reported to have received a message from him on June 12 seeking to return home to Illinois. Analysis of Hodgkinson’s phone and e-mail accounts are ongoing.
Content found on Hodgkinson’s phone shows photographs and videos between April 11 and April 26. Hodgkinson took photographs at various sites on the National Mall and at various monuments, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol, inside the visitor’s entrance of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the front entrance of the Library of Congress, the west side of the Supreme Court, the front entrance of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Washington Monument. On April 15, Hodgkinson took multiple photographs of Eugene Simpson Stadium Park. At this point in the investigation, the FBI does not believe that these photographs represented surveillance of intended targets, however, we continue to learn more about Hodgkinson’s recent activities.
While announcing these developments in this ongoing joint investigation, Assistant Director Vale, Special Agent in Charge Slater, Chief Brown, Chief Verderosa, and Special Agent in Charge Boxler continue to wish those who sustained injuries and were affected by the shooting a speedy recovery. We commend the work of the first responders who came on scene while it was still dangerous to provide medical assistance and transport the injured, including Alexandria Fire & EMS, Arlington County EMS, and United States Park Police. We also commend the extensive support of partner agencies in the immediate hours and days following the shooting including the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Arlington Police, and Metro Transit Police. The FBI’s Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis Divisions provided extensive assistance in this ongoing investigation and appreciate the support of the St. Claire Sheriff’s Department. These partner responding agencies have allowed investigators and analysts to continue to conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the shooting at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park.