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Parents warned police of Pentagon shooter's bizarre mental state
"There are no indications at this point that there are any international or domestic connections to this incident at all," Keevill said. "At this time, it appears to be a single individual that had issues."
Bedell left an electronic trail thick with written, video and audio manifestoes. In an audio address posted on the Internet, he suggested that after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy the United States had been infiltrated by a cabal of gangsters he called the "coup regime." Bedell believed that the group has continued manipulating the country "up to the present day" and was probably responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war.
In recent years, in conversations with friends and in Internet postings, Bedell seemed obsessed by what he saw as attacks on personal liberty. He was especially irked by criminal penalties for marijuana use, said Reb Monaco, a family friend who knew Bedell for most of his life. But Bedell had never expressed hostility toward the military, Monaco said.
Monaco said he and his wife were with Bedell's parents as they learned how their son's cross-country trip had ended.
Police and the FBI said that at the Pentagon, Bedell had a full beard and wore slacks and a blazer -- a sharp contrast to his appearances on the Internet, in which he appears cleanshaven, speaking softly about his invention of a stock market-like information exchange.
Known to friends as Patrick, Bedell "had gone off the deep end right before he left, his parents told us," Monaco said after spending the night and morning at the family home at the Ridgemark Golf and Country Club in Hollister, Calif.
Bedell had been arrested on drug charges and spoke "often about drug use and why it was helpful to him," said Monaco, who added that the arrests stretched back several years and were a source of "great concern to his parents."
A Web page that included a speech by Bedell on YouTube also cited a 2006 Orange County, Calif., case in which Bedell was charged with cultivating marijuana, as well as a copy of a 2006 prescription for medical use of marijuana issued to John Patrick Bedell for "chronic insomnia."
"He was not a person who should have been issued a medical clearance to use marijuana, but he was," Monaco said.
Bedell lived with his parents, Kaye and John Bedell Sr., a financial planner. In their missing persons report about their son, they said they thought he was working in San Jose but did not know where.
Friends reached yesterday said they did not recognize the portrait that was emerging of Bedell. They remembered him as a teenager who wore Birkenstocks to high school, a brilliant young man who attended liberal colleges, a regular at the farmer's market.
"I remember him being a sweet-natured, funny peacenik," said Paul Hamilton, who went to San Benito High School with Bedell and knew his family for 25 years. "I never knew anything about this side of him. It's weird to turn on the TV and see someone you know and see him called a terrorist."
In an online profile, Bedell wrote that he attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and San Jose State University. Officials at Santa Cruz confirmed that a man by that name attended the school from 1992 to 1998 and received a bachelor's degree in physics. At San Jose State, where Bedell took graduate and undergraduate courses, chemical engineering professor David Parent described him as one of his most memorable students and then broke down in tears.
Staff researcher Meg Smith and staff reporters Hamil R. Harris, Ed O'Keefe, Ann Scott Tyson, Craig Whitlock, Debbi Wilgoren and Clarence Williams contributed to this report.