Gunman 'had gone off the deep end'

Pentagon shooter had history of mental illness and drugs, family and friend say

March 06, 2010|By Mary Pat Flaherty, Hamil R. Harris and Michael E. Ruane | The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — — John Patrick Bedell, whose cross-country odyssey ended in a brief gun battle outside the Pentagon on Thursday night, was a well-educated but troubled student of science, economy and society who "had gone off the deep end" and believed that the United States was controlled by a sinister organization leading it toward a new dark age, according to friends and Internet postings attributed to him.

Bedell, 36, who was shot and killed by Pentagon security guards, had recently been living with his parents in Hollister, Calif., one friend of the family said, but had dropped out of contact after saying he was taking off on a car trip. His parents recently filed a missing persons report with authorities. His parents warned authorities their son was upset and might have a gun, a source told the Associated Press.

In recent weeks, he seems to have wandered back and forth across the country. He was stopped for speeding in Amarillo, Texas, on Jan. 3, and on Feb. 1 for marijuana intoxication in Reno, Nev., where he was so impaired he almost fell over, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. He had chronic mental health problems, investigators said, and had been treated as a patient at mental health institutions four times.

"We are devastated," his family said in a statement Friday. "To the outside world, this tragedy is the first and only thing they will know of Patrick. To us, he was a beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin. We may never know why he made this terrible decision. One thing is clear though - his actions were caused by an illness and not a defective character."

It's not clear exactly when Bedell, a thin, soft-spoken man with blond hair and light eyes, began his journey to Arlington, Va. He drove a green 1998 Toyota Avalon, which police found in a parking garage of the nearby Fashion Centre mall. A cache of ammunition was found in the car.

Bedell left behind many written, video and audio statements on the Internet. In an audio address, he suggested that the United States was infiltrated by a cabal of gangsters called the "coup regime" after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He said he believed the cabal was likely behind such things as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the Iraq war, and continued to influence the country "up to the present day."

In recent years, in conversations with friends and in Internet postings that appear to be his, Bedell spoke often and at length about social issues and what he saw as attacks on personal liberty. He was especially irked by criminal penalties for marijuana use, said Reb Monaco, who has known Bedell since Bedell was a child. Bedell had not expressed hostility toward the military, Monaco said.

Monaco said he and his wife were with Bedell's parents when they learned that their son's trip had ended at the Pentagon. It was there, armed with two handguns, that he shot and wounded two officers from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. Bedell was then shot in the head and upper left arm and died later at George Washington University Hospital in Washington.

Bedell, known to friends and family as Patrick, "had gone off the deep end right before he left, his parents told us," Monaco said Friday after spending the night and morning at the Bedell family home.

Meanwhile, the two security officers were reported to be recovering at home.

Officers Jeffrey Amos and Marvin Carraway were superficially wounded, one in the shoulder and one in the thigh. Both were treated at George Washington University Hospital and released. They and a third officer returned fire at Bedell, critically wounding him, said Richard Keevill, chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.

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