ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILL. - Sheriff Rick Watson of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department said his department saw no sign James T. Hodgkinson may have planned this morning’s violent attack on federal lawmakers in Alexandria, Virginia.
But more than 10 years ago he was arrested for repeatedly assaulting two people though the charges were dropped.
Most recently, on March 24, 2017, Watson confirmed his department was called to Hodgkinson’s home when a neighbor reported hearing 50 gun shots.
Watson said when deputies arrived at Hodgkinson’s home he was engaged in target practice with a .30-30 rifle. Watson said the rifle is commonly used for deer hunting and is not a semi-automatic firearm.
But back in 2006, an incident report of an arrest for domestic violence states a witness claims Hodgkinson "punched his [the witness'] girlfriend in the face with a closed fist" and then "walked outside with his shot gun and aimed it" at a witness' face.
The report said he also struck the left side of the witness’ face with the gun. During the same incident, Hodgkinson reportedly dragged his own daughter by the hair.
The day before, Hodgkinson was arrested for damage to property when he busted into his neighbor’s home to retrieve his daughter.
Both the battery charge and the damage to property charge were dismissed.
On Wednesday, Watson spoke about the considerate demeanor his deputies witnessed last March when they visited Hodgkinson’s home.
"We went over and talked to him. He was very nice. He said 'hey, I will take it to a range somewhere that is safer' and that was the end of it. But he gave no indication . . . we checked his firearm owner’s identification card which you have to have in Illinois to possess a gun and it was all legal and valid. He gave no indication he was doing anything other than what he was doing . . . shooting his gun"
Watson said the two battery-related arrests happened over a decade ago and did not represent the person deputies encountered last March.
Hodgkinson also had a long history of traffic violations, the majority of them dismissed by the courts. Watson said they did not show any tendency towards violence.
© 2017 KSDK-TV