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Scalise improving, hospital says

Shooter reportedly took list of 3 GOP lawmakers to ballpark

By Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

This article was published June 18, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

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MedStar Washington Hospital Center Director of Trauma Dr. Jack Sava leaves a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 16, 2017, about the condition of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. who was shot in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, during a congressional baseball practice.

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Photos by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was upgraded from "critical" to "serious condition" Saturday and continued to show signs of improvement after he was wounded in a shooting at a Republican baseball practice outside Washington.

Medstar Washington Hospital Center released the update on behalf of the Scalise family. The Louisiana Republican underwent another surgery Saturday, and the hospital said he was more responsive and speaking with family.

Scalise was one of five people shot when a gunman opened fire Wednesday as the Republican team practiced in Alexandria, Va. He has required surgery several times since the shooting.

The man who shot Scalise and others at the baseball practice had with him a piece of paper with doodles and the names of three lawmakers, according to a person familiar with the case.

The person told The Associated Press on Saturday that investigators aren't sure of the significance of the names and don't know if it was a list of people he was targeting. This person was not authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The person did not disclose the names but said those listed had been briefed.

The New York Times reported that the lawmakers were Republicans and that the shooter had pictures of the ballpark on his cellphone, citing law enforcement officials.

Several other people were also injured in Wednesday's shooting before Scalise's security detail and other police officers gunned down the assailant, who later died. The shooter was an Illinois man, James Hodgkinson, who had lashed out against President Donald Trump and Republicans through social media.

Also suffering relatively minor injuries were two Capitol Police officers, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, and House GOP aide Zack Barth. Griner remained hospitalized at MedStar Hospital after getting shot in the ankle, and Dr. Jack Sava of the Medstar hospital described her in good condition.

Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, who was shot multiple times and critically wounded, has undergone surgery and doctors expect a full recovery, his family said Saturday.

In Belleville, Ill., Hodgkinson, 66, was known to some friends and neighbors as a volatile figure.

"Is it shocking?" asked Doug Knepper, whose son is married to one of Hodgkinson's foster daughters. "No, because the man did not seem 100 percent stable to me."

One of Hodgkinson's foster daughters killed herself in a gruesome fashion: by dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself on fire. Another described herself as "more of a hindrance than a daughter." And when Hodgkinson dragged his grandniece by her hair and tried to choke her, police were called in, and he was charged with battery. In previously sealed court papers obtained by an area newspaper, she described him as an abusive alcoholic who hit her repeatedly.

He pleaded innocent and the case was eventually dismissed, records show, because the victims did not appear in court.

For all his complaining about Republicans, he had little to do with Democratic politics in his hometown.

"Never heard his name, ever, ever, ever," said Patty Sprague, the St. Clair County auditor, who has been in elective office for more than a decade. "We knew our volunteers, and he was not a part of it at all."

A onetime high school wrestler who worked for years in construction and then ran his own home inspection business, Hodgkinson spent much of his adult life in Belleville, a Southern Illinois community of just over 40,000 people not far from St. Louis. He lived with his wife of nearly 30 years, Suzanne.

After one of the couple's foster daughters, Wanda Ashley Stock, set herself on fire in 1996, the couple told the local newspaper, The Belleville News-Democrat, that they did not know what had prompted a "very practical, levelheaded girl" to take her own life. The newspaper went on to say that the couple later discovered that the young woman had previously attempted suicide, and that hours before she killed herself, her boyfriend had broken up with her.

Experts caution that many children arrive in foster homes with deep-rooted problems that cannot be attributed to those who care for them.

Knepper and his wife, Vicki, first met Hodgkinson in 2014, when their son Matthew became engaged to another of the Hodgkinsons' foster daughters, Tasha. Vicki Knepper described Hodgkinson as "very aloof," and uninterested in the children he had helped raise.

"When Sue talked about the kids, it was always 'I wanted it,' it was never 'we,'" Vicki Knepper said. More recently, she said, Suzanne Hodgkinson had confided in the Kneppers that she wanted a divorce.

Information for this article was contributed by Eric Tucker, Erica Werner, Lauran Neergaard, Maria Danilova and Jim Salter of The Associated Press; and by Julie Turkewitz, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, John Eligon, Alan Blinder, Bill Bryan, Richard Perez Pena, Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett of The New York Times.

A Section on 06/18/2017

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