Suspect's Parents Warned Police

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Federal law-enforcement authorities intensified their investigation Friday into suspected Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell, whose erratic behavior prompted his parents to contact the police in the months before the attack that left two police officers wounded.

[PENTSHOOT] Associated Press

John Patrick Bedell, undated photo.

Mr. Bedell, 36 years old, died late Thursday night from the wounds he suffered after opening fire at police officers guarding the Pentagon earlier that evening. Pentagon police officials said Mr. Bedell, who was carrying two semi-automatic handguns and several magazines of ammunition, was trying to enter the fortified Defense Department headquarters. Authorities believe Mr. Bedell, who harbored—and had expressed—anger toward the federal government, acted alone.

Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency said Mr. Bedell emerged from the Pentagon subway station Thursday evening and made his way to a nearby guard post. When officers asked for his identification, Mr. Bedell, who was wearing a white button-down shirt and blazer, pulled out a pistol and started shooting.

The investigators said Mr. Bedell, who had studied physics and engineering, drove to Washington from his parents' home in Hollister, Calif., in the days before the assault. Mr. Bedell's 1998 green Toyota Avalon was recovered from a garage at the Pentagon City Mall hours after the attack. Additional ammunition was found in the car, authorities said.

Mr. Bedell's parents reached out to law-enforcement officials after growing concerned about their son's mental health. According to police in San Benito County, the Bedells filed a missing-persons report about their son on Jan. 4 after not hearing from him for several days.

John and Karen Bedell, the suspect's parents, live in a gated golf community outside the city limits of Hollister, 95 miles southeast of San Francisco. Their house is a one-story structure.

Stu Woo/The Wall Street Journal

The home where John Patrick Bedell lived with his parents in Hollister, Calif.

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According to local police in Hollister, the Bedells received a phone call Jan. 3 from a highway-patrol officer in Texas who said he pulled over Mr. Bedell for speeding and grew concerned because his car "appeared in disarray." The officer asked Mr. Bedell's mother if her son was a danger to himself or others, and relayed that Mr. Bedell had said he was on his way to the East Coast.

Ms. Bedell spoke to her son briefly, who assured her that he was alright, according to the police. Mr. Bedell's parents told police in Hollister he had been voluntarily committed to a mental institution on three or four occasions. He had also been arrested in June 2006 for cultivating 16 four-foot-high cannabis plants in his apartment, as well as for resisting a police officer.

On Jan. 11, Mr. Bedell's mother told police her son had made a $600 purchase at a Sacramento-area gun range. The police don't yet know if Mr. Bedell bought his guns there.

Concerns about the safety of U.S. military installations have been running high since a November shooting at Fort Hood in Texas killed 13 troops, and an earlier incident outside a Little Rock, Ark., recruiting station killed one soldier and badly wounded another. Authorities said both of those incidents were religiously motivated.

Mr. Bedell's actions, by contrast, appear to have been prompted by his anger at the U.S. government, and belief that far-reaching conspiracies were behind events as big as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Associated Press

Pentagon police patrol the Pentagon after a shooting in Washington.

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In a Nov. 25, 2006, podcast called "Directions to Freedom, Part Two," Mr. Bedell said the "seizure of the United States government by an international criminal conspiracy" was a "long-established reality." He criticized the military and intelligence services, which he said had become tools of an illegitimate regime. "This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control," he said.

The suspected gunman had a license to legally obtain medicinal marijuana, according to his parents, and wanted to see the drug legalized. On his Wikipedia user page, he wrote of his hopes of seeing "billions and billions of carefully cultivated, highly valuable cannibis plants growing through the United States with complete security of property." He envisioned the plants used as part of a new monetary system tied to the value of a gram of cannabis.

At San Benito High School, Mr. Bedell was remembered as a "happy" and normal student, known affectionately as "Fat Pat" because of his heavy-set frame, said classmate and friend Robert Turner. He said Mr. Bedell was often quiet, but was outspoken on some topics, such as the Gulf War. Mr. Bedell believed the U.S. entered that conflict to gain access to oil, Mr. Turner said.

—Louise Radnofsky and Justin Scheck contributed to this article.

Write to Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com, T.W. Farnam at timothy.farnam@wsj.com and Stu Woo at Stu.Woo@wsj.com

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