Bedell drove to Washington, D.C., from California in the past few weeks, Pentagon Police Chief Richard S. Keevill said today, to conduct what was essentially a suicide mission.
At 6:40 p.m. Thursday, he approached one of the entrances to the Pentagon and began firing after officers asked him for an access pass. The California native was well-dressed, in slacks, a white collared shirt and blazer when he opened fire, police said.
He had two semiautomatic weapons concealed in his clothing and a large amount of ammunition. Police said that he may have uttered something before opening fire, but what he said was unclear.
"The officers were emphatic about saying he was very calm, that there was no distress," Keevill said. "He had his arms down at his pocket. We see folks come up to the Pentagon every day that have their passes in different places. He reached into his pocket. They assumed he was going to get his pass out. He came out with a gun and just started shooting."
Bedell was shot twice in the head and died at 10 p.m. Thursday night at the George Washington University Hospital, the FBI said today. The two officers he shot, Jeffery Amos and Marvin Carraway, were released. There was also a third officer involved, the FBI said, but his name was not released.
"Those injuries were grazing injuries," Keevill said. "The police officers were able to return fire."
Bedell had brushes with the law in the past and his Internet musings mentioned charges for marijuana possession as a reference to the government's intervention in his life.
Last month, Bedell was pulled over in Washoe County, Nev., for failing to signal at the light when police found 76 grams of marijuana in his possession. Bedell was charged Feb. 2 with driving under the influence, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. He was supposed to appear in court March 2.
This was not Bedell's first run-in with the law. He was arrested for cultivating marijuana and for resisting a police officer in California in June 2006.
Monaco said Bedell's parents tried to intervene multiple times and get him help, but he wouldn't listen.
As for the motive behind Thursday's shooting, police say they are not certain yet but they are investigating Internet postings in which Bedell wrote and recorded audio expressing his anger toward the government.
"The moral values of individuals and communities are increasingly attacked by a political system where deceit is routine and accepted and the only standard is power," he said in one online video.
One Internet posting with the name JPatrickBedell on it talked about suspicions that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were staged, calling them "the September 11 demolitions."
The suicide mission seemed to be another attack aimed at the government, but those who knew Bedell expressed surprise.
"He used to talk to me when he was younger about politics," Monaco said. "He was always interested in political issues, issues related to the economy and relaxing marijuana laws. But I certainly never associated him with any conspiracy theories.
"This is going to sound bizarre, but he was a very, very gentle young man, I mean, I never associated him with any violence on any level," Monaco said. "He was a very gentle, quite intellectual young man."
The Keevill said that the gunman appeared to have acted alone.