Congressmen say they spoke to suspect moments before he opened fire

Posted at 2:50 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 20:49:13-04

Two Republican members of Congress who were leaving Wednesday’s morning baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, said they believe they were approached by the alleged shooter moments before he opened fire on their colleagues.

Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis told CNN that a middle-aged man in his late 50s to 60s approached him and Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina as they were leaving practice to ask whether those playing on the field were Republicans or Democrats. When Duncan responded that they were Republicans playing, the man turned around and left.

DeSantis said he didn’t realize the connection until later, when heard the news of the shooting, and alerted the police.

“We reported this individual. Since he’s been identified, the picture on the individual’s Twitter page matches the individual,” said DeSantis. “I’m very sure. It’s the type of thing where I’ve seen him for 10 seconds, and for seeing him for 10 seconds I’m as sure as I can be.”

DeSantis said the man seemed “a little weird” and when he was told Republicans were those playing on the field, the man reacted with “a little bias, but not enough that I thought he was going to go commit acts of violence.”

Federal law enforcement sources have identified to CNN the suspected shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. The suspect was killed after exchanging shots with police at the scene.

DeSantis was in the backseat of the car at the time and said he was only able to see the man from the chest up. Remarking about the man’s appearance, DeSantis said he was “the type of guy if you were walking down the street you wouldn’t pick him out or think anything of him.”

Duncan was in the passenger seat and got a clearer view of who he believes to be the shooter.

“After I heard about the shooting, (Alexandria police) asked me to come down there because I did have an interaction with someone in the parking lot who asked me if the team practicing was a Democrat or a Republican team. I told him they were Republicans. He said ‘K, thanks,’ and turned around.”

Duncan said the man was wearing a red shirt but he didn’t see anything in his hands. He added that he didn’t see any partisan logos on his body or clothing.

When asked if he thought his teammates were targeted because they were Republican, Duncan said yes.

“Based on the question he asked me, I would make that assumption because he asked me if this team was the Republican or Democrat team practicing. I responded that it was a Republican team practicing and he proceeded to shoot Republicans. Take that for what it’s worth,” he said.