Pentagon shooter ‘felt threatened government agents or some people were out to do him harm’

John Patrick Bedell is seen in this driver's license photo.

County Supervisor Reb Monaco, who is close with John Patrick
Bedell’s family and spent a lot of time trying to help him through
the years, said the 36-year-old Pentagon shooter never showed
anything close to a violent nature. Monaco did, however, note how
Bedell often displayed signs of paranoia and talked how he felt
threatened by the possibility, for instance, of government agents
harming him.
County Supervisor Reb Monaco, who is close with John Patrick Bedell’s family and spent a lot of time trying to help him through the years, said the 36-year-old Pentagon shooter never showed anything close to a violent nature. Monaco did, however, note how Bedell often displayed signs of paranoia and talked how he felt threatened by the possibility, for instance, of government agents harming him.

“He was just very gentle,” Monaco said. “I never saw him demonstrate any violence at all. I possess firearms myself. I never recall him ever having an interest in firearms on any level.”

Bedell, of Hollister, opened fire Thursday outside the Pentagon using a 9mm handgun and injured two police officers before being killed from return gunfire.

Monaco had known Bedell since he was a child. Upon family members’ request several years ago – they knew Monaco had a history of dealing with youths as a retired school teacher – he offered to spend time with him. Bedell started to show more serious signs of mental health problems around 2002, Monaco said.

From his own experience with Bedell, whom he also referred to as highly intellectual with a keenly subtle sense of humor, Monaco said he was “obviously very paranoid” and “felt that he was at risk.”

Asked for an example, he said: “He felt threatened government agents or some people were out to do him harm.”

Since his more serious problems arose as an adult, though, his family’s efforts to get Bedell treatment – he had been committed for mental health treatment three or four times, according to Sheriff Curtis Hill – often were constrained by the legal system.

“This is really a demonstration of a terrible situation where there’s no way to intervene with an adult who needs help, until they get into the court system,” Monaco said. “In denial as he was, there was no way.”

He went on: “I think, really, myself, his family, even law enforcement, have done everything they could do legally. He was in such denial. There was no way they could intervene without his consent.”

Monaco pointed to Bedell’s history of heavy marijuana use and said although he does not blame his mental instability on it, “I certainly don’t think that helped” and it caused him to “further spiral.”

Aside from urging treatment and staying supportive, his parents always made it clear he had a home at their Ridgemark residence and helped him financially when needed, Monaco said.

Before his troubled adult life, though, Monaco remembered Bedell as a “socially capable” kid who had a “great sense of humor.” He did isolate himself for periods, Monaco said, while he had a particular interest in electronics and computers, and was an avid reader.

Monaco’s own two children, a daughter and son, grew up with Bedell and his two younger brothers. They all attended school together, and Monaco said his daughter and son were “very upset” when he called to inform them what had happened.

As a whole, friends and family, and the local community, have been “very, very supportive” about the situation.

“The community is very supportive, very understanding,” Monaco said. “We’re still a small town. I think people are genuinely supportive and realize this is just a horrible tragedy.”

Look back for more on the Web, and see the Free Lance on Tuesday for comprehensive coverage.

Related stories:

Media puts spotlight on Hollister

SBHS: Shooter attended school but left before graduating

Family was trying to get help for Pentagon shooting suspect

Childhood peer recalls gatherings with suspect and family

Bedell’s family releases statement: ‘We may never know why he made this terrible decision’

Apparent online presence shows suspect’s distrust of government

Updated: Suspected Pentagon gunman was from Hollister; recently attended SJ State

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