Shooting at the Pentagon: John Patrick Bedell, suspect

Pentagon police patrol the Pentagon after a shooting in Washington, Thursday, March 4, 2010. A gunman coolly drew a weapon from his pocket and opened fire at the teeming subway entrance to the Pentagon complex Thursday evening, wounding two police officers before being shot and critically wounded, officials said. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Pentagon police patrol the Pentagon after a shooting in Washington, Thursday, March 4, 2010. A gunman coolly drew a weapon from his pocket and opened fire at the teeming subway entrance to the Pentagon complex Thursday evening, wounding two police officers before being shot and critically wounded, officials said. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) (Cliff Owen - AP)
Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Pentagon Reporter
Friday, March 5, 2010; 11:00 AM

A California man who walked calmly up to two police officers and opened fire at an entrance to the Pentagon Thursday night appears to have acted alone and was not connected to any terrorist plot, Pentagon police chief Richard S. Keevill said Friday morning.

The shooter, identified as 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell, was dressed in a business suit and carried two 9-millimeter semi-automatic weapons and "many magazines" of ammunition, Keevill said at a 6 a.m. news conference Friday. "He walked very directly to the officers and engaged," Keevill said.

Washington Post Pentagon reporter Ann Scott Tyson was online Friday, March 5, at 11 a.m. ET with the latest details of the incident.


Ann Scott Tyson: Hi, Ann Scott Tyson here to talk about the Pentagon shooting and anything else related. I look forward to your questions.


Harrisburg, Pa.: How close are investigators to confirming or not if Internet postings attributed to the Pentagon shooter were in fact written by him? Suspected gunman's Internet writings show resentment of U.S., suspicions over 9/11 attacks (AP, March 5)

Ann Scott Tyson: So far they have said the Internet postings are only possibly linked to the shooter, but I doubt it would take very long to pin that down.


Woodbridge, Va.: This is a little off topic, but do you or anyone else know why the Fort Hood shooter was not shot dead? He did a lot more damage, for sure. Thanks.

Ann Scott Tyson: My understanding is the Fort Hood shooter was disabled by police gunfire and after that quickly taken to the hospital. I do not believe he was intentionally injured rather than killed, but that is simply how it unfolded.


Washington, D.C.: The so-called 9/11 "truth" movement has been lurking under the media radar for quite sometime. They've created a pseudoscience in attempt to justify their claims the U.S. attacked itself on 9/11. No credible objective scientific body has endorsed their claims and many of them are full of holes (such as the assertion the World Trade Center collapsed at "free-fall speed" which they claim proves explosives were used). Yet, the believers quote them as fact and it appears that these conspiracy theories were, at least in part, part of Bedell's motivation. Do you think this will focus more attention of the "truth" movement and its hatred of this country?

Ann Scott Tyson: If what you say is correct, this incident would certainly focus attention on individuals who act violently based upon conspiracy theories.


Tallahassee, Fla.: Ann,

Is there any word as to whether he was a veteran or not?


Ann Scott Tyson: I have not seen any word on that yet.

_______________________ Photo: John Patrick Bedell, Pentagon shooter suspect (YouTube)


Washington, D.C.: How much longer do they expect the Pentagon Metro to be closed?

Ann Scott Tyson: I just called Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato, who said "The FBI is still doing their crime scene investigation and until they release the scene to us we cannot resume service." She added: "We want to resume service as soon as we can but I can't even begin to guess" when the station will open.


Rockville, Md.: Dear Ms. Tyson, The Internet comment boards (including that of the WP) have lit up with the debate about whether the shooter is "right-wing nut" or "left-wing nut." Those supporting the former view highlight the shooter's apparent leanings toward 9/11 conspiracy theories. Those supporting the latter view highlight, among others, the shooter's growing of marijuana and targeting of the Pentagon. In your opinion, is the determination of the shooter's ideological leanings important? Is it important for understanding the crime? Is it also politically significant? Thanks.

Ann Scott Tyson: While it may be simplistic to categorize the shooter either as "right-wing nut" or "left-wing nut," I do believe that his ideological leanings could help people understand his motives for carrying out the crime, if it can be demonstrated that his actions were linked to those political beliefs.


Washington, D.C.: You can't stop one man who will trade his life for others....

So after the Holocaust shooting, the left in this country blamed the right-wing media. So now that this guy believed that 9/11 was an inside job and the Army/CIA were out to get him, lines that have been promoted by senior Democrat leaders including Howard Dean, should we all blame this on the left wing?

See how this goes? We all need to be calm in situations like this. You can't stop one man who will trade his life for others.

Everyone, please calm down.

Ann Scott Tyson: Interesting comment.... I agree that it is best to focus on the specifics of each crime, given how complicated they are and how hard it is to instantly understand the psychology of the shooters.


Leesburg, Va.: About a year or so ago, Under Sec. Napolitano, the Dept. of Homeland Security issued the conclusion of a study, started under the Bush administration, identifying radical anti-government, right-wing group members as suspects of note for future terrorist acts.

The release was met with a lot of criticism from Republicans, demanding of apologies, and the like. But, since the report's release, we had the Abortion Doctor Murder, The Holocaust Museum Shooting, the guy who flew his plane into the IRS building, and now this guy.

It appears that report was spot on, will we be hearing any apologies coming from the aforementioned GOP lawmakers?

Ann Scott Tyson: Thanks for your comment. My understanding is that the Pentagon shooting is not currently considered a terrorist act.


Inside the Beltway: We've just got to stop this political hatred that is between the liberals and conservatives. Some people are just losing it on both sides. What do you think.

Ann Scott Tyson: I completely agree. I recall how mind-boggling it was to me when I covered Congress several years ago. So many good initiatives died for no other reason than sheer political animosity.


Alexandria, Va.: So is anyone going to start connecting the dots on anti-government violence? It doesn't need to be organized to be a problem.

Ann Scott Tyson: I would suspect the FBI is looking at that very closely.


Pittsburgh, Pa.: So, was Bedell a criminal or a terrorist?

Ann Scott Tyson: Again, so far authorities have said they do not consider this a terrorist act.


Omaha, Neb.: There seems to have been quite a few incidents like this (lone person "snapping" and attacking groups of innocent people): Fort Hood, the professor in Alabama, the man who flew his plane into the federal building, the school shooter who was restrained by an alert teacher, etc. Do you know if there has been an actual increase in these sorts of events, or has there just been increased coverage?

Ann Scott Tyson: That's a great question. I believe such events have always gotten a lot of coverage, but since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks such outbursts of violence are more closely scrutinized for any links to terrorism.


Fairfax, Va.: Have there been other similar incidents like this at the Pentagon?

Ann Scott Tyson: I cannot recall any other attack by a gunman like this over the past nine years, since I started covering the Pentagon in 2001, but we are reporting that a Pentagon police officer became the first to die in the line of duty in 2005 when he was killed trying to stop a fleeing carjacker who entered the Pentagon parking lot.


Washington, D.C.: Did the suspect say anything before or while he shot the policemen?

Ann Scott Tyson: Supposedly yes, but the police officer who may have heard that has not been interviewed about it, we are reporting.


Washington, D.C.: What was the gunman's motivation? Was he seeking to rob the Pentagon? Was he seeking to kill someone in specific? Was he seeking to kill random victims and call attention to his political message, like terrorists did on 9/11?

Ann Scott Tyson: All great questions. We are trying to learn the answers. Seems the robbery motive would not rank high, and from how the shooting unfolded it appeared he was targeting the security force at the Pentagon entrance, although perhaps not specific individuals he had identified in advance.


Ann Scott Tyson: Thanks for the excellent questions. I am signing off now.


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