- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Facebook users posting to an anti-Republican group reportedly followed by the suspected Alexandria gunman celebrated his shooting rampage Wednesday that injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others.

According to the Belleville News-Democrat, James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, belonged to a number of anti-Republican groups, including one called “Terminate the Republican Party,” before he opened fire on Republican congressional members at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday morning.

The Republicans were practicing on the field in preparation for the congressional baseball game to be held Thursday when Mr. Hodgkinson started shooting. He later died from his injures at a hospital following a shootout with authorities.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, who left the practice just prior to the shooting, said a man had asked him just before if those on the field were Republicans or Democrats.

Mr. Hodgkinson, a former campaign volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders, had a history of posting anti-Republican and anti-President Trump messages on social media. In 2015, he wrote that Ms. Scalise should “lose his job.”

The “Terminate the Republican Party” public Facebook group was among many anti-GOP groups Hodgkinson reportedly belonged to. In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s shooting, a user by the name Mari-Ellen Cain posted a black and white image on the page that read, “And it’s one, two, three shots you’re out at the old ball game!!!” The Daily Caller first reported.

The post received 9 likes and more happy reactions than not before it was deleted Wednesday afternoon.

Darryl W. Riley responded to Ms. Cain’s post: “Lol…this was no surprise. We all knew this was gonna happen.”

Robert Blanch also wrote, “maybe a few real good ones n they will start worrying bout people and not their buddies.”

Other members of the group have since posted messages condemning violence.

“We do not condone violence in this group,” wrote Howard Scott Pearlman, who created the group in 2013.

“Terminate means end. And the ending we mean is by voting them all out of office,” he added.

“I am sure the feds are here taking notes on us all. Next the site will be called subversive by the far right,” Mark Peters wrote. “Let me clearly state here that I do not agree at all with ANY Violence. I believe we can change what we need changed through the the laws of the land and using our voting power to make change. Let’s argue up a s— storm BUT never more than beyond that.”

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