The former LSU student who fatally shot two hostages in a bank standoff in northeast Louisiana had drawn attention from federal authorities earlier this year after he was photographed holding an assault rifle while visiting Yemen.
Fuaed Abdo Ahmed had not been under investigation before the standoff, but LSU Police, who were briefed by the FBI, issued a bulletin to Louisiana law enforcement agencies regarding statements he made.
While Ahmed was not considered a threat to the university, the former student was “an individual that would concern us and that we would want to know about if he was coming back to Baton Rouge,” said Capt. Cory Lalonde, an LSU Police spokesman.
The FBI said Friday that agents interviewed Ahmed in Yemen in April after his family reported him missing — and possibly kidnapped — and again in June upon his return to the United States.
The second interview was prompted by a report “about a Facebook photo of Ahmed holding an AK-47 while he was visiting Yemen,” authorities said.
In the interview at Los Angeles International Airport, Ahmed told authorities he had contemplated suicide and he believed a “microphone device” had been implanted in his head, a claim he repeated as State Police were negotiating with him Aug. 13 while he was holed up inside the Tensas State Bank in St. Joseph.
Ahmed disavowed ties to criminal activity or terrorism, the FBI said, but was carrying notes containing “a plan to threaten suicide in a police station” if he could not get help removing the device he perceived to be in his head. Ahmed was complaining of hearing voices and high-pitched sounds.
“The FBI checked relevant databases and found no record of criminal activity or other derogatory information,” the agency said in its statement. “After the interview, local L.A. authorities conducted an independent evaluation of Ahmed and then took him to a medical facility for a multi-day mental evaluation.”
Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones said Monday that a number of questions remain unanswered.
“Regardless of what I say, it’s not going to change the outcome, and certainly our parish is devastated by this tragic turn of events,” Jones said.
“I think that there needs to be an open channel between every entity,” Jones said of law enforcement. “That there’s transparency with what they know for everybody … to be better advised and prepared for a potential situation like this.”
State Police are still investigating the fatal standoff in St. Joseph, a small town of 1,200 near the Mississippi border.
Capt. Doug Cain said Monday that all indications point to Ahmed suffering from mental illness and acting alone.
“He made some calls from the bank,” Cain said. “We want to know who he was talking to.”
The standoff began after noon when Ahmed took two women and a man captive inside the bank.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson has said Ahmed grew increasingly erratic, hanging up on police at times during the negotiations.
He demanded, among other things, that they get the device out of his head, Edmonson has said.
Ahmed was carrying a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun and an assault rifle and kept the hostages in a small workroom where the bank vault is. The bank sits across the street from a store owned by Ahmed’s family.
Authorities were able to connect Ahmed with a friend in Alaska during negotiations, which authorities have said was pivotal in persuading him to release one woman.
Ahmed allegedly shot the remaining two hostages and was fatally shot by police.
One hostage, Jay Warbington, died at the scene. Another, LaDean McDaniel, died at an Alexandria hospital.
A State Police spokesman, Trooper Albert Paxton, said investigators have just begun to debrief that woman.
The standoff ended after Ahmed told negotiators he was going to kill his remaining hostages, prompting State Police to enter the building.
While the standoff caught the community by surprise, some of Ahmed’s Internet activity has raised eyebrows in hindsight, including one post in which he displayed a cartoon strip of a gunman in discussions with negotiators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.