The Steve Scalise shooting report was released by the City of Alexandria on Friday. The purpose of the report was to ensure that the shootings by local police were legal and justified.
This case did not present a close call. To the contrary, not only were the actions
of the agents and officers reasonable, they were obligatory in light of the
overwhelming and determined force employed by the suspect.
I think we can file that under “DUH!!!”
As we all know, James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter, had planned to kill a number of Republican Congressman while they practiced for a baseball game.
The suspect, James T. Hodgkinson, was
planning to attack them by opening fire on the team with a lawfully purchased SKS style
semi-automatic assault rifle and a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
During the gun battle, the suspect fired a total of at least 70 rounds: 62
7.62x39mm rounds fired through the assault rifle and 8 9mm rounds fired through
the semi-automatic handgun. In aggregate, the agents and police officers fired a total
of at least 40 rounds.
There’s an awful lot of detail in the report which some of you might find interesting. Here are a couple things that stood out to me:
- Hodgkinson had rented a storage unit for his firearms and ammunition.
- He can cased the field for several days prior to the shooting.
- Video from Hodgkinson’s phone shows that he had selected the shooting site in April.
Simpson Field is bordered by a high chain-link fence. On the third-base side
there is a gate in the fence just north of the third-base dugout. By chance, on the
morning of the incident the gate was padlocked. This simple fact likely saved lives by
preventing the suspect from walking onto the baseball field as he fired.
Eyewitnesses saw the suspect approach the fence on the third-base side. He
appeared calm and did not say anything. The suspect stood near the third-base gate,
pointed the rifle toward the Republican team members, and without warning fired a
single round towards the players on the baseball field.
The thing I hadn’t realized was that Hodgkinson never made it onto the baseball field. His real intent was likely to open the normally unlocked gate and walk in. Why he chose to engage when the plan was blown, we’ll never know. He also just fired a single shot. Again, we’ll never know, but it seems like he would have just ‘gone for it’ and blasted away.
Something that wasn’t mentioned in the report (nor should it necessarily have been) was the list that Hodgkinson had that listed Reps. Scot DesJarlais (R-TN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA).
What really interests me is the motivation beyond the “angry white man” who wanted to kill a bunch of Republicans. Hodgkinson had to have some rationale beyond just killing Republicans; twisted as it might be. As has been pointed out, they were all members of the Freedom Caucus.
DesJarlais won the re-election by a margin of 15 points. Frank’s won the Arizona’s 8th Congressional District Election with 76% of the vote. Duncan won re-election with 71.18% of the vote. Jim Jordan had 67.99%. Mo Brooks 66.75%. Mo Brooks 68.6%. In other words, these are all very conservative congressmen who won by large margins. While killing them might be retribution for their views, it wouldn’t have likely changed who the kind of congressman these areas would have chosen to replace them and it wouldn’t have done anything in the long term to affect the power of the Freedom Caucus.
So, as usual, we seem to be left with more questions than answers:
- Was Steve Scalise the actual target? If so, what did Hodgkinson look to accomplish beyond some twisted revenge motive? Scalise had won his last election with 66.6% so this wasn’t a seat that was likely to flip to Democrat either
- Was the list in his pocket related to the shooting? Perhaps if Scalise was the main target, these were his secondary targets?
- Why didn’t Hodgkinson continue to blast away behind a fence? And why did he stop long enough for people to point him out? Perhaps he was just ‘taking in the moment’ that ‘wow, I actually did it.’ Who knows?
- Hodgkinson actually moved towards the firing agents. With no chance to get on the field, why did he do that?
Here’s the 60 Minutes interview with Steve Scalise: