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Pentagon shooting suspect's parents are 'devastated,' say an illness prompted his 'terrible decision'

March 5, 2010 |  2:50 pm


The parents of John Patrick Bedell, who was shot to death after pulling a gun on Pentagon police guards, said Friday they are “devastated” by the incident, adding that “his actions were caused by an illness and not a defective character.”

“To the outside world, this tragedy is the first and only thing they will know of Patrick,” his parents said in a statement. “To us, he was a beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, and cousin. We may never know why he made this terrible decision.”

Bedell, 36, of Hollister, Calif., had mental health problems and had used marijuana, according to authorities, friends and court records.

San Benito County Supervisor Reb Monaco said he had been a close friend of the Bedell family for 35 years.

Upon hearing of the shooting, and at the request of one of Bedell’s brothers, Monaco said he went to the family home late Thursday, spending almost three hours.

“They’re an excellent family, very loving, very close. They have three boys, all of them very intelligent. They grew up with my own children,” he said. “My wife and I were there to support this family. It’s such a tragedy and shock to this family. I can’t believe this tragedy.”

Patrick, he said, had suffered from mental illness for at least 15 years.

“He probably was mentally ill for that period of time,” said Monaco, a retired schoolteacher. “He seemed rather paranoid. He was a heavy marijuana user and tended to self-medicate with marijuana. I don’t know if he used other drugs.”

Nevertheless, Monaco said, Patrick also was a “gentle person.”

“His actions do not really fit that. I’ve known him since he was a little kid. He was always impressed me” as being very gentle, he said. “He was very bright, very intelligent.”

Monaco said the Bedells did not appear to know where Patrick was recently.

His parents reported him missing in January and asked local authorities to hold him, concerned about his mental health, said San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill.

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

“There’s an inference in [the report] that he was concerned about his mental health,” Hill said. Apparently finding no cause to hold Bedell, the trooper let him go, the sheriff said.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 a patrol car.

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

Bedell recently had attended San Jose State as a graduate student, studying electrical engineering, said Pat Harris, a university spokeswoman. He had enrolled in courses in fall 2008 through fall 2009, she said.

Bedell had not 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