Pennsylvania cop shooting suspect's 'a chicken, not a terrorist': Ex-brother-in-law

Ex-relative of suspect killed in shootout with cops says he isn't a terrorist.

ByABC News
December 24, 2017, 3:00 AM

— -- The man who authorities say was killed after attempting to gun down several police officers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, "is not a terrorist," a family member told ABC News on Saturday.

A day after Ahmed El-Mofty allegedly opened fire in what officials said was a deliberate attack on multiple police officers Friday, Ahmed Soweilam told ABC News that El-Mofty was a timid family man.

"He is a chicken," Soweilam, who described himself as El-Mofty's ex-brother-in-law, said. "He is not a terrorist."

He said the 51-year-old El-Mofty was a native of Egypt and had two children with his wife, from whom he has been estranged for about six years.

El-Mofty shot at police from at three locations in Pennsylvania's capital before responding police officers shot and killed him, Dauphin County prosecutors said.

One officer was injured in the shootings, but her injuries are considered non-life-threatening and she was reportedly "doing well," Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said.

Marisco also told ABC News that his office is trying to determine whether El-Mofty's attacks on law enforcement officers were motivated by terrorism.

While local authorities continue to stress they are still investigating if it was terrorism, Department of Homeland Security Acting Press Secretary Tyler Houlton issued a statement on Twitter Saturday evening referring to the shooting as "a terror attack." The statement was issued as part of the Trump administration's ongoing criticism of chain migration, which allows family members to sponsor relatives for immigration.

"The Department of Homeland Security can confirm the suspect involved in a terror attack in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and another suspect arrested on terror-related money laundering charges were both beneficiaries of extended chain migration."

Houlton's second reference is to a woman on Long Island who was charged with using bitcoin to support ISIS activities.

Soweilam said El-Mofty visited the Middle East, but stressed he was a gentle man.

Dauphin County prosecutors, Marisco said, are looking closely at an October trip to the Middle East that El-Mofty took, and want to know where he was living, which houses of worship he possibly attended, and whether he was employed when he allegedly attempted to attack the cops.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are also involved in the investigation, the prosecutor confirmed.

Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, 51, allegedly shot at police officers in Harrisburg, Pa., three times before being killed on Dec. 22, 2017.
Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, 51, allegedly shot at police officers in Harrisburg, Pa., three times before being killed on Dec. 22, 2017.

The first shooting took place at about 4:10 p.m. when El-Mofty allegedly opened fire on a Capitol Police officer in his cruiser, striking the vehicle several times, but missing the officer. The shooting took place just steps from the Pennsylvania state Capitol Building. About a half hour later, the same man is suspected to have fired at a female officer who was struck once.

Capitol Police pursued the suspect to a residential area, who then allegedly opened fire on them with two handguns, Marsico said. The officers fired back, striking and killing the suspect. None of the officers was struck.

Marsico said there was "no doubt" the man was targeting police officers.

"We are asking the public if they have any information about Mr. El-Mofty to please call 911 and let us know, anyone that has any information about him," Marsico said at a Friday night press conference.

"This could've been a really tragic incident with this individual firing many shots at police cars in downtown Harrisburg in the midst of rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon, and then coming up here in a residential neighborhood and firing again many shots."

When asked about specific ties to terrorism, Marsico said an investigation would reveal that information and cautioned, "We don't want people to run wild with speculation."

"At first it sounded like firecrackers," eyewitness Michael Burton told Harrisburg ABC affiliate WHTM. "Then I heard like a barrage of shots and I assume that's when officers shot back."

"We got to the alley up there and the cop was there, he had his long rifle out. He said, 'Get back.' Then the cop came down, put the tape across."

"You shoot at the cops, you get what you get," Burton said.

ABC News' M.L. Nestel contributed to this report.