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Parents of Pentagon gunman sought a mental-health hold for their son, sheriff in California says [Updated]

March 5, 2010 | 11:31 am

John-Patrick-Bedell-Photo The parents of the man shot to death after pulling a gun on Pentagon police guards Thursday had reported him missing in January and asked local authorities to hold him, concerned about his mental health.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m.: The family of the gunman, John Patrick Bedell, released the following statement Friday, according to the Hollister (Calif.) Free Lance:

"We are devastated as a family by the news from yesterday. 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.

"We wish for the speedy and complete recovery of the two officers involved. The family asks that you respect their privacy in this terrible time."]

The parents of Bedell, 36, of Hollister filed a missing-person report on Jan. 4, said San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill.

Hill said the report stemmed from a call the family received from a Texas state trooper on Jan. 3. The trooper said he had stopped their son for speeding on a freeway heading west outside Amarillo, Hill said.

The trooper used Bedell’s cellphone to call Bedell’s parents, apparently trying to determine whether there was sufficient cause for a mental-health hold on Bedell.

“There’s an inference in [the report] that he was concerned about his mental health,” Hill said.

It’s unclear what Bedell’s mother told the trooper. Apparently finding no cause to hold Bedell, the trooper let him go, Hill said.

Hill said Bedell’s mother called San Benito County sheriff’s deputies the next day to report her son missing and to ask for a mental-health hold in the event he was located. Deputies went to the Bedell house later. By then, his mother said, he had returned home, but she told deputies she couldn’t find him.

The missing-person case remained open until Jan. 18, when deputies returned to the Bedell home. His father told them he’d returned and to cancel the missing-person report, which they did, Hill said.

[Updated at 12:34 p.m.: In the San Benito County sheriff’s Jan. 4 missing-person report, Bedell’s father said Patrick and Patrick's brother had been in an argument about three weeks before. The father said he had not seen Patrick since Dec. 30. His son, he said, had been living and working in San Jose, but he didn’t know where.

According to the report, the Texas state trooper told Bedell’s mother, Karen, that he was concerned for her son's mental health because his car appeared to be in disarray. He said that Bedell had told him he was on his way to the East Coast.

Bedell’s mother told the officer that he was OK, according to the report. She spoke briefly with her son, who said he was OK.

The father told San Benito County deputies that he was concerned for his son’s safety. He said Bedell had a medical marijuana card, had been detained for mental evaluation before and had no friends or relatives on the East Coast.

On January 18, deputies returned to the Bedell home. Bedell’s father said his son had returned a few days before, and asked his parents “not to ask him any questions about where he was,” according to the report. Deputies removed his name from the missing-persons database.]

In 2006, Orange County court records show, Bedell was arrested and charged with cultivating marijuana and resisting arrest. The marijuana charge was later dropped and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of resisting arrest. He served three years' probation, which ended in August, and for which he did Caltrans community service, according to court records.

[Updated at 1:26 p.m. Irvine police arrested Bedell at his apartment on Amherst Aisle after neighbors reported him growing marijuana on a balcony.

Seeing the plants, officers obtained a search warrant for his apartment. Four days later, they returned and found 16 marijuana plants, along with an irrigation system, lights and other growing equipment. Bedell was alone in the apartment, according to the police report, and was arrested. He refused to leave under his own power and officers had to carry him to the patrol car.

Officers confiscated cards listing his name and a business, One Gram Cannabis, said Irvine police Lt. Henry Boggs.]

Bedell had recently attended San Jose State University as a graduate student, studying electrical engineering, said Pat Harris, university spokeswoman. He’d enrolled in courses in the fall of 2008 through fall of 2009, she said. He hadn’t enrolled for the 2010 spring semester, but “he was a student in good standing. He was not on academic probation” nor did he have a criminal record at the university, Harris said.

--Sam Quinones

Related: A troubled path to Pentagon -- The man who died trying to blast his way into the military complex had been mentally ill for years

Photo: John Patrick Bedell

Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation