BELLEVILLE, ILL. - The last big talk of the town was here in Belleville?
“We just had art on the square that's what we had a lot of coverage for,” laughs Susan Relle.
Belleville is that kind of town, and they like it that way. But with James Hodgkinson named as the Alexandria shooter, the national spotlight’s here.
“I was a little shocked out of all the cities in the United States it would be a little Midwest town like this,” said Claire Hatch, a lifelong resident. “I talked to a lot of people throughout yesterday who went to school with him and said everything was he was always just a normal guy, kind of quiet. Various people told me that.”
Hodgkinson grew up here in the very part of the country many say is left out of the political conversation. But others in Belleville say it’s just not a political town.
“You have people on both sides but everyone gets along,” said Hatch.
It’s a conversation about the political discourse happening around the country and in the city where the shooter grew up.
“Belleville is a great city and this could have happened anywhere I suppose.”
Conversation about the man accused of attacking legislators is in high gear at a Bob’s Barbershop in Bellevue, where men have been getting their hair cut for four decades.
So it is not surprising owner Bob Kaiser may have heard something many of us want to know: a reason the shooter may have travelled to Washington, D.C.
Amid the whir of clippers and click of scissors at Bob's Barbershop in Belleville there's been another growing sound.
“It’s is abuzz, the whole town,” said Mike Grafe while sitting in a barber chair getting his hair cut.
Grafe was referring to conversation about James Hodgkinson, a Belleville man who was identified as the shooter who attacked legislators during a baseball game.
Kaiser who is 80-years-old has been asking his customers one question.
“Did you hear about what was going on out there in Washington? The guy from Belleville was shooting people,” Kaiser said.
But Kaiser went on to say he never expected to see the shock on one customer’s face yesterday.
“”Bobby,’ he said, ‘I know him. I went to school with him. I just talked with him about a month ago or two months ago,’” said Kaiser.
Kaiser said he has so many customers, he can’t remember all of their names. But he did remember the friend disclosed what he knew about a reason Hodgkinson travelled to the D.C. area.
“He was going to see about getting a job with Bernie Sanders because he politicked for him when he was running for office,” Kaiser said.
“The friend said Hodgkinson sold tools to get enough money for the trip,” according to Kaiser.
“Belleville has hit the news for something we really don't want to be on the news for,” Grafe said. “But your gonna just talk about it.”
Kaiser says the friend appeared to call and speak with Hodgkinson's wife from the shop. Still unanswered is why led Hodgkinson to yesterday’s attack.
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