The FBI is treating the attempted mass assassination of Republican lawmakers as “assault” and not terrorism, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Andrew Vale announced at a press conference Tuesday morning.
“At this time the FBI has assessed that the deceased shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, acted alone. We also assess that there was no nexus to terrorism. The FBI is investigating the shooting as an assault of a member of Congress and assault on a law enforcement officer,” Vale said.
The FBI has long-defined terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives
A press release sent out by the agency before the press conference offered no speculation about the would-be assassin’s motive.
The FBI confirmed that the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, had a list of names of six Republican lawmakers in his pocket at the time that he opened fire on Republican congressmen and staffers last Wednesday. Hodgkinson performed “cursory” searches online for two of those lawmakers, Vale said. The FBI confirmed The Daily Caller’s reporting that Hodgkinson’s list was found on his person, and not on his van as had been reported by other news agencies.
Hodgkinson researched the Republican National Convention online the night before he attempted the mass political assassination, law enforcement officials said in a joint press release Wednesday morning. Hodgkinson also researched directions for driving from Alexandria back to his home of Belleville, Illinois.
The FBI also found “more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a receipt for a November 2016 gun purchase and additional SKS rifle components” in a storage facility Hodgkinson rented in Alexandria, Virginia, the agency said in a joint press release.
Hodgkinson took photos of various monuments and government buildings, including the Supreme Court and “inside the visitor’s entrance of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.”
“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,” the press release stated.
The 66-year-old Hodgkinson, a left-wing Bernie Sanders supporter, frequently espoused angry rhetoric on social media and belonged to anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including one called “Terminate The Republican Party.” The members of that group celebrated Hodgkinson’s attempt at murdering Republican congressmen that left four people wounded including Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who was on the verge of death.
“Hodgkinson made numerous posts on all of his social media accounts espousing anti-Republican views, although all of the posts reviewed thus far appear to be First Amendment-protected speech,” the press release stated.