Youth killed in ‘Suicide-by-cop’ wanted IDF career

New details emerge on the death of 18-year-old shot by police after threatening to kill his pregnant girlfriend.

Police generic in english crime scene 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar)
Police generic in english crime scene 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar)
Four days after volunteer police shot to death Raz Attias, 18, when he threatened to kill his pregnant girlfriend, new details emerged on Sunday regarding the hours leading up to the tragedy.
Attias sent a message on Thursday afternoon to Channel 2’s website, saying he planned to commit suicide along with his 17-year-old girlfriend somewhere along the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Channel 2 forwarded Attias’s comment to police.
Officers arrived at the Attias home in Petah Tikva and spoke with his parents and friends in an effort to locate Raz.
His friends tried to organize a meeting on Cliff Beach on Thursday, on the northern edge of Tel Aviv, to calm him down with the cooperation of the police. When the friends, police and family realized he was in the Jerusalem vicinity, police got in touch with the mother of his girlfriend, who urged the young couple via cellphone to come back to the girlfriend’s family home in Jerusalem. The family begged the police not to put up roadblocks to find the couple, as getting stopped by the police would probably frighten Attias even further.
“If only he could have seen me, he would have broken down. We would have hugged, and then we would have gone home and returned to our lives,” Attias’s mother, Riki, told reporters outside her home in Petah Tikva on Saturday.
Outside Beit Shemesh on Thursday, Attias fired shots in the air, apparently to test the handgun he had stolen from his father, who is in the military.
Around 1 a.m., Attias’s car hit the guard rail on the road from Moshav Ramat Raziel to Beit Shemesh. It is unclear if he hit the rail because he was going too fast or if he saw the police and was worried about getting stopped.
At first, volunteer police officers thought they were responding to a routine traffic accident and not a suicide threat.
As the volunteer policemen approached, Attias pointed the gun at his girlfriend and threatened to kill her, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. Then he shot in the direction of the officers, lightly wounding one in the head. The other volunteers opened fire, killing Attias instantly. It was only a matter of moments between when the volunteer police arrived at the car and Attias was killed.
Riki Attias slammed the police’s actions.
“If only they had acted as they promised and not gotten involved,” she told reporters.
“I saw [his body on Saturday] morning at [the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at] Abu Kabir. They didn’t shoot him all over his body, but they did shoot him in his head.... Why did they shoot him in the head? Why didn’t they shoot him in the legs? If they had done that this whole story could have ended differently,” she said.
“It’s hard for me to believe that he shot first. The boy was scared... When he saw them, it seems that he lost his senses.
It doesn’t matter who shot first or who shot second, it won’t bring him back,” she said.
Riki Attias added that her son had dreamed of becoming a career military officer.
The young couple met while studying at a boarding school in the North.
Riki Attias said she knew her son’s girlfriend was pregnant, and she had traveled up North to talk to the two young people about their options. Riki Attias told reporters her son was highly stressed because his girlfriend kept changing her mind about whether to have an abortion. She blames activists from EFRAT, an antiabortion organization, who she said harassed his girlfriend while she was in the hospital.
The 17-year-old had complained of stomach pain and while hospitalized realized she was pregnant.
“The central problem was that there were three activists from EFRAT, called ‘pregnancy supporters,’ who sat with her and said, ‘Don’t abort, we’re from EFRAT, we will support you,’” Riki Attias said.
Ruth Tidhar, the assistant director of EFRAT, said the organization had no record of interaction with Attias’s girlfriend.
“The EFRAT organization does not send volunteers to the hospitals, that’s not what we do,” she said.
Tidhar stressed that since the girl is a minor, the organization would have taken different steps to offer her help.
She added that the girl may have been approached by EFRAT supporters, not official volunteers representing the organization, who urged her not to have an abortion.