Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday repudiated any and all associations the gunman in the Alexandria baseball field shooting claimed to have had with his 2016 presidential campaign.
Social media accounts for James T. Hodgkinson, believed to be the man who opened fire on GOP lawmakers at a baseball practice in suburban Washington, D.C., appeared to show him as an outspoken critic of Republicans and a supporter of Sanders’ campaign.
Sanders, however, made it clear he was “sickened” by the shooting and condemned the act as “despicable.”
“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders said in a statement. “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.”
“Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values,” he added.
“My hopes and prayers are that Representative Scalise, congressional staff and the Capitol Police Officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery. I also want to thank the Capitol Police for their heroic actions to prevent further harm,” Sanders said.
Earlier Wednesday, at least five people were wounded in the Wednesday morning shooting, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) an aide to another Republican congressman and two U.S. Capitol Police officers.
Witnesses said up to 50 shots were fired as the gunman and members of Scalise’s security detail began exchanging shots. Among the other lawmakers in attendance at the ballfield were Reps. Ron Desantis (R-Fla.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
Authorities quickly identified James T. Hodgkinson, a home inspector from Belleville, Ill., as the lone suspect for the attack President Trump said in a televised address that Hodgkinson, 66, died from police gunshot wounds.
On two Facebook accounts, Hodgkinson regularly posted statuses opposing Trump and Hillary Clinton, while praising Sanders.
“Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” he wrote in one March Facebook post.
He was also a member of several anti-GOP Facebook groups, including “Terminate the Republican Party” and “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans.”
One of his Facebook pages features a Sanders picture as its cover photo, and the other has a profile picture of Sanders depicted as Uncle Sam.
Hodgkinson participated in a 2012 Belleville protest against income inequality, where he said he was part of the “99%,” according to the Belleville News-Democrat.