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Officers who shot Pentagon gunman recall moments of mayhem

A Pentagon police officer who helped confront gunman John Patrick Bedell said the look on Bedell's face in the moments before the shooting betrayed his intentions. Two officers were wounded, and Bedell was fatally shot. (March 8)

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By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

There was something about the man in the blazer that wasn't quite right -- an intensity, a nervousness -- that told Officer Marvin Carraway that "something was about to happen."

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A former Marine who served in the Persian Gulf War, Carraway could sense it, he said. So he stood up to greet the man at the entrance to the Pentagon last Thursday evening, and that's when John Patrick Bedell pulled out a gun and started firing.

Within moments, the gunman suffered a fatal gunshot wound. In interviews Monday, the three members of the Pentagon Force Protection Team involved in the shooting outside the Pentagon said Bedell, a 36-year-old Californian whose family said he had descended into paranoia, appeared from out of nowhere and started firing wildly.

Even though Bedell was standing just five feet away, he only managed to hit Carraway in the thigh. Carraway, 44, said he retreated behind a bulletproof barrier while Bedell kept firing. Police said the shooter was carrying two 9mm semiautomatic handguns. Nearby, Officer Colin Richards also ducked behind a barrier, and, as Bedell ran past them, the two officers returned fire.

"There was no time to think," Carraway said, "it happened so fast."

Moments before, Officer Jeffrey Amos, 46, who was on patrol near the Metro station entrance, had decided to stretch his legs when he heard "a loud popping sound" and thought, "That's gunfire." He started running toward the sound and suddenly saw Bedell, holding a gun, running toward him.

Amos raised his UMP 40 submachine gun and fired, and Bedell came crashing down, knocking over a metal railing. He was pronounced dead later that evening. Authorities said he had been shot in the head.

On Monday, all three officers said they were thankful no one else was hurt. "It could have been much worse," Carraway said.

Amos's shoulder was grazed by the gunfire. Carraway said a bullet just broke the skin of his thigh.

"He's Superman," said Richards, 29. "Man of steel."

"He's a former Marine," Amos added.

The incident was, the officers said, the sort of harrowing, random attack they try to stay alert for -- even at the end of a shift on what had been a normal Thursday of checking identifications at the Pentagon entrance.

All three officers are on routine administrative leave while investigators look into the shooting, but they should be back at work within a week, said Terry Sutherland, a police spokesman. In the meantime, they're spending time with their families.

Amos, who has three children, said his youngest, a 5-year-old, keeps asking: "Daddy, why are they calling you a hero?"

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