WASHINGTON — Alexandria’s top prosecutor says police were legally justified in using deadly force against the man who shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others during a congressional baseball practice in June — an attack the prosecutor called an act of terrorism.
In a 41-page report released Friday, the commonwealth’s attorney for Alexandria, Bryan Porter, said two U.S. Capitol Police officers and members of the Alexandria Police Department fired at least 40 rounds responding to 66-year-old James T. Hogkinson’s assault on Republican lawmakers who had gathered at the Alexandria baseball field June 14 to practice for an upcoming charity baseball game.
Porter’s report describes Hogkinson’s as being “fueled by rage against Republican legislators” who “decided to commit an act of terrorism.”
“The agents and officers were justified in reasonably fearing for their lives and the lives of the people on the baseball field,” Porter concluded. “Therefore, it was reasonable — indeed it was necessary — for them to use deadly force in order to repel the assault and neutralize the threat.”
Porter’s report credits two members of the Capitol Police assigned to guard Scalise — with quickly returning fire, which “pinned down” Hodgkinson and drew his attention away from people on the baseball field and hidden in dugouts.
Three members of the Alexandria Police Department responded to the scene, two of whom exchanged gunfire with Hodgkinson.
The report said Hodgkinson fired at least 70 rounds from an SKS-style semi-automatic assault rifle and a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. Scalise, who was standing near second-base, was shot in the hip and gravely wounded. Matthew Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods and a former congressional staffer, was shot in the chest. Zach Barton, a staffer, was shot in the lower leg.
Hodgkinson was shot three times by law enforcement — once in the chest by Special Agent David Bailey, with the Capitol Police, and in both hips by Alexandria officer Alexander Jensen, according to the report. Hodgkinson later died in the hospital from his injuries.
Special Agent Crystal Griner, with the Capitol Police, was shot in the ankle after firing several shots at Hodgkinson.
The entire ordeal ended in about 10 minutes from the time Hodgkinson started shooting shortly after 7 a.m., according to the report.
Hodgkinson, an unemployed former home inspector from Illinois who had been living out of his van in the Alexandria area, told family he was moving to D.C. in March to “protest” and to “talk about taxes,” according to Porter’s report.
Hodgkinson, who was described by people who knew him as hot-tempered but not violent, “held strong political opinions and was very unhappy about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” Porter’s report stated. “He spent a significant amount of time on social media, using it to express his political views, such as his strong support for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.”
Porter said his report included a painstaking investigation that included interviews with dozens of witnesses, but the conclusion was “clear-cut” and not a “close call,” concluding the officers reasonably feared for their lives and the lives of others.
“The agents and officers should be commended for their bravery and service,” Porter said. “As others ran from the suspect, they engaged him and ran towards the danger. The agents and officers are the paradigm of what law-enforcement officers should be and are true stewards of the public trust inherent in their respective offices.”
Scalise was “at imminent risk of death” when he arrived at D.C.’s MedStar Washington Hospital Center after the shooting, doctors said. He underwent numerous surgeries and spent a month in the hospital. Last week, he returned to the Capitol for the first time since the shooting where he was greeted with cheers and hugs.
Scalise is slated to throw out the first pitch Friday night before the first playoff game between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.