The estranged wife of the man authorities say opened fire on a congressional baseball practice said Thursday she felt “horrible” about the shootings.
“I can’t believe he did this, I cannot believe it, and I just want you [media] all to go away and leave my neighbors in peace—they don’t deserve this—I don’t deserve this, my daughters don’t deserve all this,” Sue Hodgkinson told reporters.
James Hodgkinson, 66, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Capitol police officers in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday. Sue Hodgkinson, who was married to him for 30 years before their separation in March, trembled before a gathering of microphones in the couple's hometown of Belleville, Illinois. She appeared bewildered at times by the questions asked by reporters.
She said James Hodgkinson left the couple’s hometown for Washington D.C. to work with “people to change the tax brackets.”
Asked if her husband was “fed up with the system,” as a high school friend had previously described him, Hodgkinson answered “probably, but I really don’t want to answer these questions about his politics—I don’t, I don’t.”
Social media accounts for Hodgkinson reveal he was distraught over the presidential election and did not shy away from posting his political views.
A search of online newspapers show that Hodgkinson frequently wrote letters to his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, which published nearly two dozen between 2010 and 2012, many of which included complaints about the same theme: income inequality.
Asked what her reaction was when she first learned of the shootings, a man who stood next to her said “shocked” in her ear.
“I was shocked, and I heard it through an ABC reporter on the phone,” she said. “I’m sorry that he did this, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
In Belleville, Hodgkinson previously owned a business conducting home inspections, though his license lapsed in late 2016 and he dissolved the business.
“He sold almost everything he owned from his businesses,” she said of his preparations before leaving.
She said she didn’t notice any big changes ahead of his departure.
“I just don’t know what to tell you people, I had no idea this was going to happen and I don’t know what to say about it,” she said. “I can’t wrap my head around it, OK?”
Hodgkinson, flanked by a man in a suit and a sheriff’s deputy, was then escorted away from the gathering of reporters to a black SUV.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, shot in Wednesday's attack, was in critical condition Thursday. Two Capitol police officers were injured, Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said. An aide to Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, was also shot, the congressman’s office said.