WASHINGTON – As officials scramble for clues leading a Georgia man to fatally stabbing a Pentagon police officer, details of the suspect’s troubled past emerged Wednesday through interviews and court records.

Austin William Lanz, 27, was arrested last April for breaking into a neighbor’s home and months earlier had drawn police attention to a harassment campaign with sexually explicit photos and messages, according to interviews and tapes by The Associated Press.

Investigators have no motive for the ambush murder of Pentagon police officer George Gonzalez, 37, revealing troubled, violent person as part of a wider conspiracy.

This undated Pentagon Force Protection Agency photo shows Pentagon police officer George Gonzalez. On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, Gonzalez died after being stabbed to death during an outbreak of violence in a transit center outside the Pentagon building and a suspect was shot by law enforcement and died on the scene. (Pentagon Force Protection Agency via AP)

“I wish there was a better way to address people’s mental health issues,” said Phillip Brent, who shared a garden fence with Lanz in Georgia and describes repeated harassment against himself and his then-fiancée. “It feels like it was just a blatant failure of our system to help someone who needed that help.”

The FBI said Wednesday the violence began around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, when Lanz got off a bus at the Pentagon Transit Center and stabbed Gonzalez to death without provocation. The two fought and Lanz shot himself with Gonzalez ‘gun. Other “officials looked into the matter that ultimately died on the scene,” the FBI said.

The attack temporarily locked U.S. military headquarters and shook the nerves of a region already on high alert for violence and potential intruders outside of federal government buildings, particularly after the January 6 riots in the U.S. Capitol.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency described Gonzalez on Wednesday as a “die-hard” New York Yankees fan and an Army veteran who served in Iraq and joined the police force in 2018. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the flags were being hoisted in half at the Pentagon -employees while the White House saluted Gonzalez that he “lost his life to protect those who protect the nation”.

Meanwhile, investigators continued to investigate Lanz’s background, including his criminal record, prison records, financial information and online accounts, looking for a motive, a law enforcement official said.

Officials did not reveal why Lanz selected the Pentagon area for violence. Lanz had joined the Marine Corps in October 2012 but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never received the marine title, the Corps said.

One episode likely of interest to investigators is an April arrest in Cobb County, Georgia, in which Lanz was accused of breaking into Brent’s home in the Acworth suburb of Atlanta in the middle of the night with a crowbar.

He was videotaped by the security system that roamed the house for 13 minutes, turning on all the lights, which police said indicated that he “had searched the home for something or someone.” According to arrest reports and court records, he left the country without taking anything with him.

Lanz was arrested and charged with burglary and trespassing. When he was informed that he had been charged, Lanz objected and said, “But I did not take anything with me,” the arrest report said. He then testified to a police officer about planes flying over the neighborhood and tracking his cell phone.

During the county jail investigation, Lanz, who was listed as 6 feet, 3 inches (1.9 meters) tall, and about 190 pounds (86 kilograms), allegedly assaulted two sheriff’s deputies in the reception area, including one with a bone, without provocation – and had torn ligaments in my knee. After he was detained, Lanz reportedly accused officers of being “gay” for dating him and asked that the shackles be removed so he could fight them one-on-one.

A judge reduced his bail to $ 30,000 in May and released him, imposing a number of conditions, including not using illegal drugs, undergoing a mental examination, and not possessing a firearm. The charges against him are still pending.

A spokesman for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Lanz was being held in the agency’s detention center but referred all other questions to the FBI.

A lawyer representing Lanz in the Georgia cases did not immediately respond to messages asking for comments. Messages left with family members at Lanz’s Acworth home were not returned immediately.

The April break-in was the culmination of a lengthy harassment campaign that included sexually explicit and “vaguely threatening” news that a surveillance camera slipped Lanz into the mailbox of the neighboring house where Brent and his then-fiancé lived, Brent said.

The harassment stopped shortly after the police who presented the footage confronted Lanz with a warning, Brent said.

But it was later resumed, also in the form of a massive cardboard sign stuck to Brent’s front door that cryptically said on one side: “I’m done wondering” and “Anger is the point of it”. on the other.

At the time of the break-in, Brent said he was so exasperated that he slept in his sister’s house. At around 4 a.m. on April 24, he was made aware that the alarm company had reported a break-in into his home. He called up the surveillance system’s video camera on his cell phone, “and I thought, oh, it’s Austin.”

He said Lanz broke in through the back door with a sledgehammer, opened all the blinds and rummaged through his bed. Although not mentioned in the police report, Lanz also carried a handgun, Brent said.

“It was terrifying,” he said.

Brent and his former fiancée, Eliza Wells, said they were frustrated with the criminal justice system, which did not initially treat the harassment allegations with reasonable seriousness and then allowed him to remain in custody.

Brent said he recently learned from a prosecutor that Lanz’s attorney was seeking a bond amendment that would allow Lanz to travel to the Washington, DC area to work with his father, who received no messages asking for Returned comments.

“I’m just wondering what could have been done differently to help Austin mentally and give him the actual tools and resources when he needed it, instead of just bailing him out and making him travel out of state and stuff.” similar.” Stuff, “said Wells.