HOLLISTER, Calif. -- The Pentagon shooter had been behaving erratically, and his family feared in January that he had bought a gun, a law enforcement official said Friday.
San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill told the AP the parents of John Patrick Bedell filed a missing persons report and were worried about his mental stability. After reading an e-mail from their son to an acquaintance, the parents told deputies they were worried that he had purchased a gun.
Hill said that Bedell has been on the department's radar since 2003, when deputies found him walking along the side of the road. They wrote him up as a "5150" -- police code for crazy -- and took him to his parents house.
Hill said that Bedell, 36, has been at in-patient mental health institutions at least four times.
The parents reported Bedell missing on Jan. 4, one day after a Texas Highway Patrol officer stopped him for speeding in Amarillo, according to the missing person's report. Bedell told the highway patrolman he was heading for the East Coast, and the officer used Bedell's phones to call his mother, Kaye Bedell, because he seemed disheveled and out of sorts.
Kaye Bedell told the highway patrol officer in Texas that her son was fine, and the patrolman let him go with a warning. The next day, Kaye told sheriff's deputies in California that her son didn't have any reason to travel to the East Coast because he had no friends or family there and they were worried about his mental state.
The 36-year-old Bedell returned to his parent's home on January 18, telling them "not to ask any questions" about where he had been.
His father told deputies his son then left. They did not know where he had gone.
"This is, you know, Middle America," Hill said. "These parents are good folks."
Sometime afterward, Bedell drove cross-country and arrived outside the military headquarters armed with two semi-automatic weapons, authorities said Friday. Internet postings linked to the lone shooting suspect reflect long-held anti-government anger.
Bedell pulled a handgun at a Pentagon entrance, shot two police officers and was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire, authorities said. The two officers were hospitalized briefly with minor injuries.
A blog connected to Bedell via the social networking site LinkedIn outlines his growing distrust of the federal government. It gives credence to the idea that a criminal enterprise run out of the government could have staged the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
It was one of several conspiracy-laden Internet postings linked to Bedell to surface since Thursday night's shooting.
Authorities said Bedell had previous run-ins with the law. They found no known connection to terrorist groups or ideologies, investigators said.
Associated Press writers Devlin Barrett and Matt Apuzzo in Washington D.C. and Marcus Wohlsen in San Francisco contributed to this report.