Wife of Virginia shooter James Hodgkinson: 'I'm sorry that he did this'

The wife of James Hodgkinson, who authorities say shot a congressman and injured others at a ballfield in Virginia, had no idea her husband would do it, and was sorry it happened.

Suzanne Hodgkinson told reporters gathered outside her Belleville home Thursday afternoon that she "couldn't believe it" when she heard about the shooting.

"I'm sorry that he did this, but there's nothing I can do about it," she said, according to interviews posted on St. Louis television stations' websites.

Four people — including Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip from Louisiana, who was shot in the hip — were wounded in the shooting. A Capitol Police officer was also injured in the incident. James Hodgkinson, who was 66, died of gunshot wounds suffered in a shootout with police.

Suzanne Hodgkinson said she thought her husband had traveled to Washington to focus on tax issues but had not known much of what he was doing. She works for a tax firm, she said, and was busy in recent months.

The couple had been married for 30 years, she said, and he'd sold almost everything from his business before moving out to D.C. in March. She said she thought he was going to return to Illinois because he'd run out of money.

Suzanne Hodgkinson asked reporters to leave the area, saying that she and her family had been through enough.

Richard Wagner, chief deputy of the St. Clair County sheriff's office, said afterward that Hodgkinson was told about the shooting by a journalist and has been with the FBI since the shooting.

"She had no idea he would do this. She had no idea he felt as strong as he did," Wagner said. "She's just devastated."

In Belleville, residents continued to grapple with the news that one of their own, a man many knew could be quick to anger, but who many said didn't show outward signs of violence, could have committed the mass shooting.

Tom Reis has owned the popular T.R.'s Place about a mile from Hodgkinson's home since 1997. 

"It makes you feel real bad that something like this is connected to here," Reis said. "We had policemen and even the FBI in here asking questions, but we just don't know him."

A half-dozen patrons gathered at the tavern Thursday afternoon for the $1 taco special and to shoot pool said Hodgkinson didn't hang out there and wasn't known to them.

"What makes a guy do something like that? I think it's terrible," Reis said. "It doesn't matter whether you're Republican, Democrat, black or white, Muslim or whatever. You just don't go out and shoot someone."

Jack McClenahan, a retired Belleville business owner, said he had several unpleasant run-ins with Hodgkinson over the years while Hodgkinson protested a favored Democratic political cause outside the local post office.

"He would get politically aggressive. I go down to the post office quite often, and he would be there collecting signatures on things he was for, and if you weren't of his opinion, he'd be very agitated," McClenahan said.

"It was super shocking for our town because you don't want bad press, and this is about as bad as press you can get," he said.

cmgutowski@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @ChristyGutowsk1

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