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. The shooter apparently left behind angry, anti-government Internet postings airing suspicions about the 9/11 attacks.
John Patrick Bedell, 36, of Hollister, Calif., was named as the gunman in the Thursday evening attack. Authorities said he’d had previous run-ins with the law.
Investigators have found no immediate connection to terrorism. The attack that superficially wounded two officers guarding the massive Defense Department headquarters appears to be a case of “a single individual who had issues,” Richard Keevill, chief of Pentagon police, said Friday.
Hints of those issues emerged in anti-government Internet postings linked to Bedell. One blog linked to Bedell’s page on the social networking site LinkedIn 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.”
Bedell died Thursday night from head wounds received when the two injured officers and another officer returned fire, Keevill said.
Although the gunfire near the subway exit in Arlington, Va., lasted less than a minute, Keevill said, numerous shots were fired. Bedell was not wearing body armor, he added.
One officer suffered a thigh wound and the other was hit in the shoulder. Keevill said they were superficial injuries, and both have been released from the hospital.
There was more ammunition in Bedell’s car, which authorities found in a local 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.
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.
The user named 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. Court records available online show the date of birth on the case mentioned by the user JPatrickBedell matches that of the John Patrick Bedell suspected in the shooting.
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 a barrage of return fire.
The subway station 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 can no longer disembark directly into the building. 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.
Transit officials said the subway station would remain closed at least part of the day Friday while the FBI continued its investigation.
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.”
Keevill added: “We have layers of security and it worked. He never got inside the building to hurt anyone.”
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.”
“I wouldn’t suspect he would be involved in anything like this,” Domingues said.
Domingues described the neighborhood as middle-class. He said the Bedells live in a one story Southwestern-style stucco home, which was dark Thursday night.