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Friend surprised by congressional shooter’s attack, authorities identify him as man from Belleville, Illinois

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- A morning of baseball practice ended in gunfire with a congressman and several others being rushed to hospitals. The gunman shot and wounded members of the Republican team at a practice for Thursday night's traditional Congressional baseball game. Capitol police returned fire, killing shooter identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson.

Investigators say that Hodgkinson had a hand gun and a long gun Wednesday morning at a park baseball field in Alexandria, Va., just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, suffered critical injuries from being shot in the leg. He is now out of surgery.

A Congressional aide, a Tyson Foods worker, and two officers were also injured - officers who were part of Rep. Scalise security detail, because he's in the House leadership.

Hodgkinson has been living in his car in Alexandria since March, but he's from Belleville, Illinois -- near st. Louis. FOX 2's Roche Madden spoke with friends and neighbors.

"It`s unbelievable, it`s amazing freaks me out," Gary Aye told FOX 2.

People who live in the Belleville area are stunned that the man who shot at the congressmen was from their backyard. Local police, sheriff`s deputies F.B.I. and ATF agents arrived on the scene, and later they entered his home.

Dale Walsh came to the scene. He says he`s been a long time friend of the Hodgkinson.

"I just want to let people know he wasn`t evil, that he was, I guess, tired of some of the politics going on," Walsh said.

When the letter carrier arrived she was prevented the delivering the mail on Hodgkinson`s street. Federal agents examined the postal truck and a piece of evidence was removed, put in a brown bag and taken away. His friend provided a mixed picture of the suspect.

"He was passionate in what he believed in. He was a happy-go-lucky. It just took me by surprise as to what happened," Walsh said.

He says that Hodgkinson was called "Tommy." He was a builder and then home inspector as evidenced by a sign on his front lawn. Walsh doesn`t know about any of his political beliefs, but describes him as strong

"He`d never back down from anybody, in a bar fight or whatever, he stood his ground," Walsh said.

He also says that Hodgkinson has a valid firearms owner ID. The investigation is now shifting from "who is the gunman?" to "why did it happen?"