Although the man who opened fire on a congressional baseball practice is known to have lived alone in his car, he did talk to one person every day — former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. Euille met the shooter, James Hodgkinson, in the lobby of a YMCA in Alexandria and spoke to him daily as the former mayor drank coffee after his workout.
“He was a very friendly person,” Euille told the Washington Post. “But what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned. He was living out of the gym bag. That, and he sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours.”
Euille even tried to help Hodgkinson find a job after noticing that he was living out of a gym bag, according to the Post. Hodgkinson worked as a home inspector until January. He browsed job sites with Euille, who is a general contractor, but Hodgkinson struggled to find employment because he lack ed a bachelor’s degree.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Hodgkinson brought cookies and doughnuts to the YMCA on multiple occasions to share with other members and the gym’s staff.
“I think it was his way of trying to connect with people,” Euille said in a telephone interview with the Tribune.
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“Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town,” Euille told the Post.
Euille, a Democrat, served as the mayor of Alexandria, Va., for 12 years before losing his reelection bid in 2015. He was the city’s first African-American mayor. Euille is a native of Alexandria, and has been involved in local politics there since 1994.
Euille told the Post that their relationship began a month and a half ago, when Hodgkinson overheard other members of the gym call Euille “mayor.” Hodgkinson used his laptop in the lobby when Euille came to work out between 7 and 7:30 a.m. every day. They discussed restaurants and events in the area.
Hodgkinson was an outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders, a fan of Rachel Maddow, and a member of several anti-GOP Facebook groups, according to CNN. But he did not chime in on conversations critical of President Trump, other than to show he agreed with Euille.
“I’m glad I never rubbed him the wrong way, and we never got into a political dialogue,” Euille told the Belleville News-Democrat. “Obviously, he had some grudge, and something inside of him.”
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