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Sanders condemns Virginia shooter who ‘apparently’ volunteered on campaign

Former presidential candidate speaks to CNN's Chris Cuomo during a CNN townhall on January 9, 2017.

Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor Wednesday to condemn the suspect in the GOP baseball practice shooting whom the Vermont senator said “apparently volunteered” for his presidential campaign.

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” Sanders said. “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”

Federal law enforcement sources have identified to CNN the alleged shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois. The shooting injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, along with a congressional staffer, a lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers. President Donald Trump said the alleged shooter succumbed to his injuries.

Scalise’s office said earlier Wednesday that he was in stable condition following the shooting, although MedStar Washington Hospital Center said Wednesday afternoon that Scalise remained in critical condition.

Sen. Jeff Flake said Matt Mika, director of government relations for Tyson foods who practices with the team, seemed to be the most seriously injured. He is in critical condition. Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, was expected to recover fully, Williams said.

Capitol Police said the two injured officers suffered no “life-threatening injuries at this point.”

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ former presidential campaign manager, told CNN that Sanders’ political staff was trying to get more information. He said Hodgkinson was not a staffer and had no formal role in the campaign. Weaver also noted there were thousands of Sanders volunteers across the country.

Robert Becker, who oversaw Sanders’ campaign in Iowa and other key states, said none of the campaign field organizers in Iowa or Illinois could remember a volunteer named James Hodgkinson.

“Nobody has any recollection of him,” Becker told CNN. “He’s not anybody anyone can remember.”

Becker said more than 10,000 volunteers turned out to help Sanders. He did not dispute reports — and the senator’s confirmation in a statement — that Hodgkinson had been a volunteer. But he said no one can recall him.

He added that Hodgkinson was also not one of the 100 paid organizers in Iowa or later in Illinois.