Saturday, April 19, 2014
By Holbrook Mohr and Michael Kunzelman / The Associated Press
ST. JOSEPH, La. — Fuaed Abdo Ahmed was angry and hearing voices, authorities said, when he wrote the letter detailing his plan to take employees hostage at a rural Louisiana bank.
Investigators work during the early-morning hours Wednesday at the Tensas State Bank branch in St. Joseph, La., where a gunman took three people hostage Tuesday.
The Associated Press
He wrote that he believed his ex-girlfriend's family had broken them up and were responsible for putting a device in his head, according to the letter found in a van parked near the bank. The family was among a list of people he believed had caused him problems, and he also wrote demands that included safe passage to another country.
What unfolded Tuesday afternoon was an hours-long standoff that left the gunman and one hostage dead of gunshot wounds and another hostage in critical condition. Despite his list of grievances, the 20-year-old gunman had no apparent history with the bank employees he took captive.
And while Ahmed may have been privately seething, he gave few outward signs of his violent aims. Several acquaintances, including the town's mayor, said they saw no signs of trouble. His high school football coach and a teammate describe an amicable star running back with good grades.
About an hour before the standoff, St. Joseph Mayor Edward Brown said he exchanged pleasantries with Ahmed at a convenience store owned by the gunman's family.
Brown described Ahmed as "just normal."
"That's why it's so bizarre to me," he said.
His former coach at Briarfield Academy in Lake Providence said Ahmed had 2,700 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns his senior year.
"It's not like he ever exhibited aggressive behavior when playing football. He was a normal good kid. It's not like he ever had any fits of rage. Ever," said Ben Durham, his former coach.
But three or four months ago, Durham said, some paranoid tendencies emerged during a Facebook conversation. Durham said he asked if Ahmed kept up with some of his Briarfield teammates and was told no, because they had started to beat him up.
"I know they didn't do that," Durham said.
Two neighbors heard the sound of gunshots coming from near Ahmed's house on Monday and Tuesday before the standoff, but didn't think it was unusual enough to call police.
The standoff began around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday when authorities said Ahmed took two women and a man captive at Tensas State Bank branch in St. Joseph, which sits near Louisiana's border with Mississippi.
At first he talked to authorities on a hostage's cellphone, then switched to one of the bank's phones. Louisiana State Police superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said the man grew increasingly erratic as negotiations went on, sometimes hanging up on police. One of his demands to authorities was that they get the device out of his head, Edmonson said.
Armed with a .380 semiautomatic handgun and an assault rifle, Ahmed kept the hostages in a small work room where the bank vault is, said Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones.
During negotiations, authorities were able to get Ahmed on the phone with a friend in Alaska, which was crucial in convincing him to release a female hostage. Jones said it's not clear why he targeted the bank, which is across the street from the store owned by Ahmed's family.
Eventually, Ahmed told negotiators he was going to kill the two remaining hostages. State police entered the building just before midnight Tuesday. That's when Ahmed shot the two hostages and then police shot and killed him, Edmonson said.
Charla Ducote, spokeswoman for Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, La., said the wounded hostage, LaDean McDaniel, was in critical condition Wednesday. Jones said she was on life support in the afternoon.
The slain hostage was identified by the sheriff as Jay Warbington.
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