Mother of West Nashville stabbing suspect reacts to news of his death in Texas

Local News

The mother of the Connecticut man killed Monday in Texas, and who is suspected of stabbing a West Nashville couple at their home on Friday, is having a hard time believing her son committed murder.

“If he killed that man, I am so profoundly sorry, but that does not sound like him,” Sue Ellen Bohning told News 2 over the phone.

Just hours after her son was killed, Sue Ellen said she was trying to piece together how this could happen.

“It doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Peter Bohning, 34, had warrants out for his arrest in connection to a stabbing attack on Donald and Leigh Ann Zirkle at their Sylvan Park home.

“He’s been convicted of this murder, and it doesn’t sound like him,” Sue Ellen explained.

She says she has no idea why her son would have been in Tennessee.

“None,” she said. “He is probably lost.”

While on the phone, Sue Ellen said police were at her house and had just informed her that her son had died.

According to Texas authorities, a deputy responded to a suspicious vehicle call, and that Peter Bohning was in the car of the couple he stabbed. They said when the deputy asked for identification, Bohning stabbed the deputy, who then defended himself by firing back.

Sue Ellen, still in shock, described her son as an intelligent man but pointed to the criminal justice and mental health systems for failing him.

“He’s a college graduate, he is very smart, but the trauma of mass incarceration in a place like Rikers Island is what made him flee,” she explained.

Bohning went on to explain that her son was arrested several years ago for using a throwing dart to steal $20 from someone. She said he then spent a year at Rikers Island Prison before entering a three-year treatment program.

“He was in a jail diversion program for three years in therapy,”she said. “He was exhausted from group therapy, family therapy, all kinds of therapy, and they wouldn’t seal the case because he had perfect scores to go to law school.”

The mother also said her son was frustrated that he was put on probation, keeping him from getting a job.

“It’s an unparalleled tragedy to me that there was no place to put him,” she said. “He was thrown in Rikers Island, and that’s what ruined him, that’s what ruined my son.”

She said her son left their home about a week ago planning to get a visa and move to China for work.

The injuries to the deputy who was stabbed during the altercation are reportedly not life-threatening.

Police say Leigh Ann Zirkle remains in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her husband, Donald, died of his injuries Friday.

Metro police will host a community meeting at West precinct on July 1 at 5 p.m. for Sylvan Park residents to discuss the murder on Cherokee Road.

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