CARBONDALE — U.S. Rep. Mike Bost said his office has had previous contact with the man who reportedly opened fire on a Wednesday morning baseball practice in Virginia, wounding a GOP congressman and several others before he was shot and fatally wounded.
Bost said his office has received 10 calls from the man, who was identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville. An aide confirmed the calls came between June 2016 and May of this year.
Bost, who represents the 12th District, which includes Belleville, said Hodgkinson called and emailed his office about any number of issues, including health care and other concerns. He said he's not sure if he ever actually met Hodgkinson face to face.
The man's tenor and tone, though, never crossed the line into what could be considered dangerous or threatening, Bost said; those contacts are referred to Capitol Police, he said.
"He’s contacted us just about 10 times, on every issue,” Bost said. “His position’s always been from a fairly left position. (He) was argumentative, but never threatening ... Whatever issue it was, whether it was email or telephone call, he was like an angry voter. He was angry, but never threatening.”
Bost said he was in his early Wednesday morning prayer group, which met about 7:30 a.m., when an aide threw open the door, interrupting the prayer. There were five people in the group — two others who might normally have been part of the prayer group were already at the early-morning practice ahead of an annual Democrats vs. Republican baseball fundraiser, which this past year raised money for the Boys and Girls Club, Bost said. One of them, U.S. Rep. Brad Wernstrup (R-Ohio), used his training to help those injured on the field.
The staffer said, "They just shot Scalise," Bost said, to which Bost said he responded, "Oh, Scalise is playing ball."
That's when he learned that his friend, Steve Scalise, a representative from Louisiana who is the House Majority Whip, had, in fact, been shot while playing ball.
Bost said that as a high-ranking member of Congress, Scalise was assigned a four-person security detail that goes everywhere with him. Bost, like so many others, credit Scalise's detail with saving lives on the field. Three members of Scalise's four-member detail were injured, two after being shot by Hodgkinson, and another during the ensuing confusion, Bost said.
A few hours after the shooting, another staffer came into his office and told him who the shooter was.
His voice sounding emotional, Bost said the morning's event served to remind him of the importance of family. After news of the shooting spread, one of his Wednesday morning messages came from his 28-year-old daughter: “She texted ‘I love you, and come home now,'” Bost said.
"Sometimes, I miss my family," he said.