ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) - The gunman who shot a congressman and four others went on a tirade against President Donald Trump the day before he opened fire at an Alexandria baseball field.
"It was way over the top. It made me step back," recalled Crist Dauberman, who talked with James Hodgkinson on Tuesday, the day before the Illinois man pulled out a loaded rifle and started firing.
At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Hodgkinson drove his white van in to Del Ray Service Center on Mt. Vernon Avenue. He asked Dauberman to check the air pressure in his tires. Dauberman had to stop working on someone else's car to help the man.
"We have air he could buy, but that's what we do in Del Ray. We help people," said Dauberman.
Hodgkinson told Dauberman that he owned a home pest control businesses.
"I said, 'Oh, that's nice. I'd like to work for myself. I work six days a week.'"
Those words apparently set him off.
"He just came out with 'TRUMP. That Trump! That, expletive.' He used a bad word describing Trump. And he said 'This guy has ruined our democracy. He's the biggest a****** that we've had in this country.'"
None of that hate came across a few hours later at Hodgkinson's regular lunch spot down the street, South China restaurant.
"Always, when he comes he say, 'Hi, how are you, hi!'" said Jimenez Levis, a waitress at the restaurant. She said Hodgkinson came in every day for lunch for the past three weeks. She said he always ordered the same thing, General Tso's chicken and fried rice. He always took the food to go.
But on Tuesday, Hodgkinson's last lunch, he stayed to eat at a booth in the restaurant. He left Levis a 50-cent tip and said nice words about the food.
"On this day he told me the food is good and he liked this food," said Levis.
She and Dauberman said Holdgkinson offered no clue as to what he might have been planning.
"He didn't say, 'I'm going to go kill Trump,' assassinate anyone. It was over the top, but there's a lot of people who have strong feelings, but they're not going out and shooting anyone," said Dauberman. He said he feels a little guilty, like maybe he could have set off the gunman.
"Yeah, by me saying I work six days a week, maybe. I thought about it. Did that guy plan on doing it the next day or just by me bringing up six days a week... I don't know. It's sad. Really sad," said Dauberman.
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