The former Marine suspected in the point-blank shooting of an Idaho pastor has a history of mental illness, police announced Monday.
The announcement came as authorities continued their manhunt for the Marine, identified as 30-year-old Kyle Andrew Odom.
“Initial reports indicate that, yes, there was some history of mental illness there,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a press conference. “The degree of it and the scope of it, I really can’t speak about.”
Odom allegedly ambushed Tim Remington in the parking lot of the Altar Church in Coeur d’Alene on Sunday afternoon, shooting the pastor in the back and skull before fleeing, according to authorities. In what some members of his church have described as a “miracle,” Remington could be released from the hospital later this week and is expected to make a full recovery.
“We do not have any information on a possible motive for the attack,” White said, adding that police believe Odom acted alone.
With the motive still a mystery, the revelation that Odom suffered from mental illness could help explain the shooting, which drew national attention partly because it came a day after Remington prayed with Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz.
The revelation also is likely to add to the debate about the role of mental illness in gun violence, particularly among veterans.
It is still unclear if Remington’s appearance at the Cruz rally has any connection to the shooting, although it appears increasingly unlikely.
Remington’s niece told local television station KREM that her family believes the shooting was not connected to the rally, but rather was an act of madness.
Church officials, meanwhile, said that Odom had spent several days hanging around casing the scene before the shooting, which would also suggest the incident was unrelated to the rally.
“Both services, he had been at the church here at the church on and off for a couple of days, driving around then he got here at 6:30 a.m. and our service doesn’t start until 8:30 a.m.,” outreach pastor John Padula told the TV station.
Police were vague when asked about Odom’s preparations for the shooting.
“It does appear that this was a pre-planned attack,” White said, according to KREM. “And I will tell you that some details surrounding Mr Odom’s planning are disturbing.”
Although the possibility of a connection to the Cruz rally sparked international interest, it is Coeur d’Alene that has been crushed by the attack.
On Monday, authorities suggested that the city of 46,000 easily could have been the stage for yet another mass shooting in America — and that Odom could still enact one somewhere else.
“I think our community as a whole got very, very lucky on Sunday,” White said, citing recent mass shootings around the country, according to the Spokesman-Review. “I think this could have been much worse.
“I’m not saying that’s what was planned in this case,” he continued. “But the fact he was armed and acting in such a suspicious manner in the middle of a church … it’s one of the reasons we’re concerned about Mr. Odom and his whereabouts, and what his next plans may be.”
The police chief said that authorities had been able to track Odom’s movements westward to Spokane after the shooting, and that they had received information leading them to believe Odom had turned south at some point toward Oregon. But authorities lost track of the suspect at around 8 p.m. Sunday, roughly six hours after the shooting.
“His whereabouts are completely unknown,” White said.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Odom, who police say should be considered armed and dangerous. Odom enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006, serving as a flight equipment technician at Camp Pendleton in southern Calif., according to the Coeur d’Alene Press. He served a tour in Iraq and earned several commendations, including a Good Conduct Medal and a National Service Medal, before leaving the Marines in 2010. Four years later, he graduated with honors and a degree in biochemistry from the University of Idaho.
In a resume posted online, Odom described himself as “results-driven, quality-minded, [and] detail oriented” with “strong critical and creative thinking skills,” according to the Press. He also listed volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels. His Facebook page lists 24 friends and little other information.
The Facebook page also includes a quote from “Hamlet,” according to the Press: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
That relativism stands in stark contrast to the deeply religious community shaken by the Sunday’s shooting.
Members of Remington’s church said they are praying not only for their injured pastor, but also for his alleged attacker: Odom.
“You could bank on the fact that this whole church is praying for him and his soul,” May Traversom told KREM. “I could guarantee you right now that Pastor’s already forgiven him.”
Odom’s family is also praying for both men.
“Our family is devastated by Sunday’s events,” the Odom family said in a text message to local media. “We are praying for Pastor Tim, his family and his continued recovery. We are also praying for Kyle’s safe return and to get the help he needs.”