From The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A California man killed in a shootout with Pentagon police drove cross-country and arrived outside the military headquarters armed with two semiautomatic weapons, authorities said Friday. Internet postings linked to the lone shooting suspect reflect long-held anti-government anger.
John Patrick Bedell, 36, pulled a handgun at a Pentagon entrance, shot two police officers and was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire, authorities said. The two officers were hospitalized briefly with minor injuries.
A blog connected to Bedell via the social networking site LinkedIn outlines his growing distrust of the federal government. It gives credence to the idea that a criminal enterprise run out of the government could have staged the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
It was one of several conspiracy-laden Internet postings linked to Bedell to surface since Thursday night’s shooting.
Authorities said Bedell, of Hollister, Calif., had previous run-ins with the law. They found no known connection to terrorist groups or ideologies, investigators said.
The attack outside the massive Defense Department headquarters appeared to be a case of “a single individual who had issues,” Richard Keevill, chief of Pentagon police, said Friday.
Bedell died Thursday night from head wounds. Officials said the two wounded guards were officers Jeffery Amos and Marvin Carraway, both of whom returned fire. They said a third guard they did not name also fired.
Reached by telephone, Amos declined to answer any questions about the shooting but said he was doing OK.
“I’m fine and my family is fine,” he told The Associated Press. “I just thank the Lord that he shielded me when all of this took place.”
Bedell drove across country, including a stop at a motel in Reno, Nevada, law enforcement officials said.
It was not immediately clear how long he stayed there, or if it was anything more than a stopover on his way to a violent end.
Hints of a deep-seated mistrust of government emerged in Internet postings linked to Bedell. A blog connected to his LinkedIn profile contained a two-part treatise on big government, including its vulnerability to being controlled by a criminal organization.
“This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control,” the blog post read.
Keevill described Bedell as “very well-educated” and well-dressed, wearing a suit that blended with commuters when he showed up at the Pentagon’s subway entrance about 6:40 p.m. But he was concealing two 9 millimeter semiautomatic weapons and “many magazines” of ammunition, Keevill said.
When Bedell seemed to reach into his pocket for worker identification, he was instead reaching for a gun, Keevill said.
“He just reached in his pocket, pulled out a gun and started shooting” at point-blank range, Keevill said. “He walked up very cool. He had no real emotion on his face.”
Although the gunfire near the subway exit in Arlington, Va., lasted less than a minute, Keevill said, numerous shots were fired.
There was more ammunition in Bedell’s car, which authorities found in a nearby mall parking garage.
“He came here from California,” Keevill said. “We were able to identify certain locations that he spent that last several weeks making his way from the West coast to the East coast.”
Keevill said he did not know what motivated the shooting: “I have no idea what his intentions were.”
On a Wikipedia page linked to Bedell, a user by the name JPatrickBedell revealed ill feelings toward the government and the armed forces and made reference to another conspiracy theory.
JPatrickBedell wrote that he was “determined to see that justice is served” in the death of Marine Col. James Sabow, who was found dead in the backyard of his California home in 1991. The death was ruled a suicide but the case has long been the source of theories of a cover up. Sabow’s family has maintained that he was murdered because he was about to expose covert military operations in Central America involving drug smuggling.
That posting can be linked to Bedell through court documents matching the shooter’s birth date but Keevill said Friday that authorities had not made “a final determination” that the shooter was the same Bedell.
On the Internet posting, user JPatrickBedell wrote the Sabow case was “a step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions.”
That same posting railed against the government’s enforcement of marijuana laws and included links to the author’s 2006 court case in Orange County, Calif., involving allegations of cultivating marijuana and resisting a police officer.
The assault at the very threshold of the Pentagon — the U.S. capital’s ground zero on Sept. 11, 2001 — came four months after a deadly attack on the Army’s Fort Hood, Texas, post allegedly by a U.S. Army psychiatrist with radical Islamic leanings.
Hatred of the government motivated a man in Texas last month to fly a small plane into a building housing Internal Revenue Service offices, killing an IRS employee and himself.
The shooting resembled one in January in which a gunman walked up to the security entrance of a Las Vegas courthouse and opened fire with a shotgun, killing one officer and wounding another before being gunned down in return fire.
The subway station in Arlington is immediately adjacent to the Pentagon building, a five-sided northern Virginia colossus across the Potomac River from Washington. Since a redesign following the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, riders take a long escalator ride to the surface from the underground station, then pass through a security check outside the doors of the building, where further security awaits.
Keevill said the gunman gave no clue to the officers at the checkpoint about what he was going to do.
“There was no distress,” he said. “When he reached into his pocket, they assumed he was going to get a pass and he came up with a gun.”
Ronald Domingues, 74, who lives next door to Bedell’s parents in a gated golf course community in Hollister, said he doesn’t know the family well. But he said Bedell sometimes lived with his parents and struck him “like a normal young man.”