The family of John Patrick Bedell, 36, also spoke out, saying they were devastated by the news of their son's action and pleading for privacy.
"We are devastated as a family by the news from yesterday," they said in a statement. "To the outside world, this tragedy is the first and only thing they will ever know of Patrick. To us, he was a beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, and cousin. We may never know why he made this terrible decision. One thing is certain, though -- his actions were caused by an illness and not a defective character."
San Benito County, Calif., Supervisor Reb Monaco, who represents the family and has known them for 35 years, said he would have never suspected that Bedell could be so violent, although he acknowledged the shooter was mentally unstable.
"He didn't have any mental problems growing up," Monaco said. "He went to school with my children, he was very intelligent. I never associated him with any mental issues until maybe the last 10 to 12 years. Recently, he was not functioning mentally."
"I don't want to blame it on a marijuana addiction -- it certainly, I don't think helped it. He became very troubled," he added.
Bedell's parents reported him missing last month. According to the missing person report, they had not heard from or seen their son since Dec. 30, 2009. The shooter's father, Oscar, stated in the report that his son, John, had been in an argument with his brother three weeks before that date and was staying at an unknown location in San Jose, Calif.
On Jan. 3, Bedell's mother, Karen, got a call from a highway patrol officer in northern Texas who pulled Bedell over for speeding, according to the missing person report. The officer asked her if she thought Bedell was a danger to himself or others, and she advised the officer that he was OK.
Bedell returned home on Jan. 11, when his mother called the sheriff, saying her son was impaired and agitated after she confronted him about a $600 purchase from a shooting range in Sacramento. But by the time police arrived, Bedell was gone.
On Jan. 18, he returned home one last time and told his parents not to ask any questions about where he has been.
In February, he was pulled over in Reno, Nev., and charged with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. He posted bail and continued on his way to Washington, D.C.
Per the missing person report, Bedell's father was worried about his son's safety and stated that he had a medical marijuana card, and that he had been detained before for medical evaluation. Oscar Bedell also said his son did not have any family or friends on the East Coast, where he told the officer in Texas he was heading.
Bedell had been an electrical engineering graduate student at San Jose State University but missed enrollment for 2010.
"He was not in school at this time," Monaco added. "He had one more class and he didn't return to school for some reason -- he went on a road trip of some kind."
Monaco, who last saw him nearly two years ago, said Bedell has two younger brothers and lived with his parents most of his life. He didn't know if the man had any friends.