MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The suspect in a shooting outside a Memphis Jewish school faces multiple charges, including attempted second-degree murder.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said Joel Bowman was charged Wednesday with carrying weapons on school property, reckless endangerment, criminal attempted second-degree murder, possessing a firearm during the commission or attempt to commit a dangerous felony, and assault against a first responder.
Police said Bowman fired shots while attempting to enter the Margolin Hebrew Academy on White Station Road Monday afternoon. Officers caught up with Bowman in Berclair shortly after the shooting and critically shot him after he exited his car holding the gun.
News 2’s sister station, WREG, spoke with Charles LaVene, who grew up calling Bowman his best friend and attended the Margolin Hebrew Academy with him.
“Kind-hearted, gentle giant. Me and him played basketball and video games together. We were the nerds in the group,” he said.
He said with certainty he doesn’t think his friend wanted to hurt anyone.
“He went during a time when there was no camp, there was no school. He just went on his own because he had a mission of whatever he internally was dealing with himself, but it wasn’t to harm anybody,” he said.
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LaVene said Bowman was diagnosed with PTSD, perhaps stemming from his father’s death in 2003, when police fatally shot him during a mental health episode. He said doctors recently changed Bowman’s medication and he noticed Bowman’s behavior change.
“He was never really active on Facebook, and then recently over the past week, he was making these manic-seeming erratic posts that were coming up. And I had messaged him, a few of our friends had message him like, “Hey buddy, what’s going on?’ And we just didn’t hear a response from him,” he said.
LaVene said he’s never seen him express violence in their decades of friendship.
“He had his own trouble that he was constantly fighting, and he was doing his best to be strong against them. And for years he had it managed. This was one crazy event triggered by a change in drugs and a serious mental illness episode,” he said.
He told WREG at the last check, Bowman remained in the ICU but was stable, but no one except law enforcement has been allowed to see or communicate with him.