Teacher who attacked base had death wish, FBI says

A Miami Central High math teacher was arrested after attacking the Homestead Air Reserve Base in a failed suicide bid, authorities say.


Wielding two butcher knives bought at Wal-Mart and vodka bottles to use as explosives, Tahmeed Ahmad chanted ''Death to America'' and told Homestead Air Reserve Base guards he wanted to kill soldiers.

But Ahmad was no terrorist, authorities believe.

Rather, the Miami Central High School math teacher wanted to ''commit suicide by cop'' when he attacked military policemen stationed at the west gate just before midnight Sunday, the FBI said.

Ahmad did not get his wish. One officer fired his handgun at Ahmad. He missed.

''We take security very seriously at the base, but this was quite an unusual event,'' said Lt. Col. Tom Davis, a base spokesman. ``Our security forces are well trained and responded appropriately.''

Police quickly arrested Ahmad, 22, whose mother says is mentally ill and had recently been in a mental institution. The FBI charged him Monday with assaulting a U.S. government employee.

Ahmad is in his first year teaching math at Miami Central High, 1781 NW 95th St.

A federal judge will decide Thursday whether he can be released pending trial.

If he is freed, Ahmad will be reassigned away from children, said John Schuster, a schools spokesman.

Ahmad had been added to a federal terrorist watch list, but officials had long since concluded he was not a credible threat, Davis said.

He graduated in June from City College of New York's honors program in mathematics, his mother, Gulnaz Ahmad, said from East Flushing, N.Y.

She said her son was a smart, quiet man who was elected as a student government-faculty liaison three years in a row. He was born in Kuwait and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

He had been recruited to teach by Miami-Dade schools. Ahmad also wanted to coach football.

But last week, a mental hospital called to say Ahmad, who had been on psychiatric medication, tried killing himself but didn't know how.

''I don't why he was depressed and why he was so sad,'' his mother said, tearfully. ``He needs help.''

According to an FBI criminal complaint, Ahmad admitted to buying two butcher knives at a Miami Lakes-area Wal-Mart. From a liquor store, he bought ``two magnum bottles of vodka he hoped to use as Molotov cocktails.''

The teacher told agent Richard W. Lunn he would have used a gun but that a week ago, a dealer refused to sell him one because he had not lived in Florida for 90 days, as required by law.

On Sunday night, Ahmad drove his car to the gate's west entrance, hopped out and ``charged the military police officers.''

''The fellow was being very hostile toward the guard,'' Davis said.

The military police officer fired in his own defense, the criminal complaint said.

It was unclear exactly how far away he was from Ahmad. An internal review of the shooting will be conducted, Davis said.

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