La. standoff gunman was treated for mental illness
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The gunman who killed two hostages during an August standoff at a rural Louisiana bank had been treated several weeks earlier for paranoid schizophrenia at a California hospital after returning to the U.S. from a trip to Yemen, according to a report released Wednesday by the Louisiana State Police.
Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, 20, was gunned down by a SWAT team that stormed the bank. He had told hostage negotiators that a “device” implanted in his head caused him to hear voices and said he would release his hostages once it was removed, according to the 110-page police report.
A brother told investigators that Ahmed had been trying to “cure himself” with yoga — roughly six hours each day — to avoid taking medication prescribed by doctors in California. The brother, Yasser, also said Ahmed began using bath salts and other “hard drugs” before dropping out of LSU in 2012.
The report says Ahmed fatally shot two employees of the Tensas State Bank in St. Joseph. Four State Police troopers fired a total of 12 rounds at Ahmed, striking him eight times. The State Police investigation concluded that the troopers’ actions were justified.
Ahmed was armed with a pistol owned by his brother and an assault rifle that he had purchased a year earlier at a Baton Rouge sporting goods store when he entered the bank on Aug. 13, 2013. He held three bank employees hostage but released one of them, Patricia White, after roughly eight hours of negotiations.
In a letter he left in a van that he drove to the bank, Ahmed said he had “broken all ties with the Islam religion and his family” and has become a “born again Christian.”
“He also wrote that he has no ties to the Middle Eastern or Arabic heritage or culture and that he is an American born citizen,” the police report says.
The letter also included a list of demands and a threat to start harming hostages after 12 hours. Police found other journals and writings at Ahmed’s home, including a handwritten will and a note that described how he would take hostages at the bank or a Wal-Mart.
Ahmed attended LSU for one year before dropping out and traveling to Yemen, where he stayed with his mother for about eight months, the report says. Ahmed was detained for questioning when he returned to the U.S. on a flight from the United Arab Emirates that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on June 4, 2013.
The police report doesn’t specify why the Department of Homeland Security had placed a “72 hour hold” on Ahmed, but it notes that he had been accused of sending a threatening Facebook message to a former high-school coach while he was in Yemen. The coach reported the threat to the East Carroll Parish Sheriff’s Office, which notified the Louisiana State Police.
Ahmed was treated for eight days at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles before returning to Louisiana and working at a family-owned store in St. Joseph.
White, the hostage who was released, told police that she had overheard co-workers LaDean McDaniel and Jay Warbington talking about Ahmed when she arrived at work on the day of the standoff. At another time, Ahmed had made them uncomfortable when he entered the bank carrying a tote bag.
The day of the standoff, Ahmed was carrying a bag containing duct tape, a propane torch, a hatchet, pliers and other items and took all three employees hostage.
“He stated to them that he was not a terrorist and he was not there to rob the bank. He stated, ‘You know why I am here,’” the report says.
Ahmed released White shortly after 8 p.m. Just before midnight and Ahmed’s threatened deadline for hurting hostages, the SWAT team entered the bank and used an explosive charge to blow open a door to the room where Ahmed was holding the other two hostages. Ahmed “immediately” shot both Warbington and McDaniel once in the head before the troopers shot and killed him, the report says
An FBI agent who was on the phone with Ahmed at the time of the shootings told police that he only heard screams after the SWAT team entered the room.