The girlfriend of Raz Attias, the 18-year-old who was killed in a police shootout Thursday night, told police investigators on Friday that she believed that Attias had picked her up from her house that evening fully prepared to die.
“He picked me up in order to die,” the girlfriend told investigators in her room in the hospital, where she was recovering from her overnight ordeal.
According to initial investigation results, the couple recently learned that the girlfriend was pregnant and, following pressure on Attias by his family to terminate the pregnancy and end the relationship, they decided to commit suicide together.
On Thursday, Attias stole his father’s handgun and the family car, wrote a suicide letter and picked up his girlfriend so they could carry out the act in a secluded location.
However Attias’s decision to send the suicide letter to Channel 2 News led to a change in plans. Upon receiving the note, Channel 2 sent it to the police, who discovered the couple’s location by tracking his cellphone to a forest near Beit Shemesh, in the Jerusalem area.
When a squad car manned by police volunteers approached his vehicle, Attias fired several shots into the air before speeding away toward a nearby highway. The couple was stopped in their tracks after their car crashed into a police guard rail.
When the search party again caught up with the couple, the police approached the car, and saw Attias embracing his girlfriend and holding a gun to her head. He threatened to kill both her and the policemen, and opened fire, wounding one of the volunteers in the head. The police responded by shooting back at Attias, who was seriously wounded and died soon afterwards.
The wounded volunteer, plus the young woman — who was not harmed physically — were taken to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, for treatment.
Witnesses reported that, when Attias held the gun to his girlfriend’s head, she cried, “Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me. I don’t want to die.”
Friends and family members of Attias criticized the police on Friday for being too quick to pull the trigger.
Maariv reported that during Attias’s funeral, in Petah Tikva, relatives asked why the cops had to kill Attias by shooting him in the head, instead of merely immobilizing him by aiming at his legs.
Attias’s aunt Galit Romano told Maariv that she refused to believe the account of the incident reported by the police. “He was an exemplary young man. Their description of events doesn’t fit with the person he was,” said Romano.
Romano pledged that the family would investigate the incident thoroughly. “We will leave no stone left unturned until we find out the truth of what happened there,” she said.
Petah Tikva deputy mayor and family friend Yaakov Ben-Simchon told reporters that Attias was a normative youth, who was simply coping with pressure. He pledged to assemble a meeting of the city’s educational psychologists and work to develop a plan to assist at risk youth.
The girlfriend’s mother told reporters she had only met Attias once, two weeks ago, and that she gathered that his parents opposed the relationship.
“From what I understand, he told my daughter that his parents didn’t want them to be together, and said that if they can’t be together, he prefers to kill himself,” said the mother.
Police are continuing to investigate the case. Internal affairs officers were also investigating the volunteer cops’ actions to determine whether they acted according to regulations.