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Psychotherapist: 'Lots of red flags' in Facebook history of Va. shooter

Posted June 14

— Following the Wednesday morning shooting at a park in Alexandria, Va., many are left questioning how quickly political passion can turn violent.

Psychotherapist Ronda Bean, who is not connected with the case, said attackers do not simply snap and go on shooting rampages. Instead, she says, it happens slowly over time, leaving a trail of clues.

“There were lots of red flags and lots of warning signs,” she said. “He clearly was explosive and angry in his Facebook posts.”

The alleged gunman in Alexandria, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, often posted online about his political anger. He was reportedly a member of a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party.”

“His comments have an element to them that are kind of over the line, but again, that in and of itself, by itself, doesn’t indicate anything,” Bean said.

But, Bean said the comments paint a different picture when added to his run-ins with the law and reports of past aggression with neighbors.

“You start to tease out, is there the indication that this person wishes to harm,” she said.

In 2015, the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security published a study on homegrown extremism. A key finding was that law enforcement said anti-government violent extremists are the greatest threat of political violence.

“There are lots of pieces, but nobody is communicating,” Bean said.

Bean said that most people don’t want to involve themselves in another person’s business. In the end, they must go with their gut feeling about behavior that might be potentially dangerous.

“You have to use your own judgment about what is appropriate intervention and what is appropriate to do,” she said.

Law enforcement officers always urge people to speak up if they see something suspicious.

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