The volunteer policemen who shot dead an 18-year-old naval cadet late Thursday night acted properly, an initial investigation concluded Saturday.
Raz Attias and his pregnant girlfriend had decided to commit suicide together, testimony in the probe showed. Confronted by police after a car chase, Attias’s girlfriend told investigators that she “got cold feet,” changed her mind and got out of the car, while Attias opened fire on the cops, injuring one of them, and was killed in their return fire.
The girlfriend, who was not immediately named, told investigators the pair had decided to kill themselves some days earlier, that she had told some of her friends about the plan, and that they had both test-fired the gun Attias had stolen from his father earlier that night. As they set out in the car, she said she told him, “Whatever you’ll do, I’ll do with you… I knew we were going to die.”
Raz’s mother Ricky said Friday that she held Raz’s pregnant teenage girlfriend responsible for her son’s death.
In an interview with Channel 2 news, Ricky Attias said that her son must have been driven to electing suicide out of desperation.
“The girl is responsible for Raz’s death. She kept changing her mind. She frustrated him,” said Attias. “My son took responsibility and said he’d stand by any decision she made.”
But the girlfriend’s mother said Saturday that the charge was deeply unfair. She said she’d had no idea her daughter was pregnant. “Only Raz’s mother knew.” Had the situation been reversed, and only she had known, she said, she would have told Raz’s family “and we would have found a solution.”
Raz Attias was shot dead by volunteer police officers in a secluded forest near Beit Shemesh late Thursday night following a car chase and a brief exchange of fire. Police were alerted to his plans to commit a double suicide together with his girlfriend after receiving a suicide letter he sent to Channel 2 News. Initial police reports revealed Raz decided to kill them both, using a gun he stole from his father, due to pressure by his parents to end the pregnancy and the relationship.
Ricky Attias said she first learned that her son’s girlfriend was pregnant on Monday, when Raz, a cadet at the navy’s pre-conscription officers college, asked her permission to use her car in order to visit his girlfriend in the hospital. The girlfriend was there because she was suffering abdominal pains, apparently related to the pregnancy. Attias said she refused to let Raz go alone, but agreed to go visit his girlfriend with him. Once there, they began discussing the girlfriend’s condition and Attias brought up the possibility of an abortion.
According to Ricky Attias, the girlfriend was unwilling to go through with an abortion and Ricky felt that her reluctance was partially due to the presence of a member of a religious anti-abortion organization in her room.
Ricky Attias said she had no indications that her son was unstable, claiming the two of them made jokes and laughed all the way home from the hospital. She also said Raz notified her that he had been in a car accident earlier on Thursday night, and suggested that wasn’t the sort of thing that someone who was planning on killing himself would do.
In an interview with Maariv, Ricky Attias revealed that she had talked to her son’s girlfriend on the night of the shooting and felt that the girl was indecisive. “One moment she told me that they both planned to shoot themselves and then two seconds later she said she wanted to keep the baby,” said Attias. “I told her not to worry and that she could keep the baby. Then the connection faltered and I couldn’t reach them again.”
Attias also criticised the police for being too quick to open fire on her son. Though police said that Raz opened fire on them first, injuring one of the officers, and was spotted holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head and threatening to shoot her, Attias said that because of the darkness at the scene of the shootout, it was impossible that the cops could have seen him.
“The scene of the crime was dark. My question is how could they see him holding a gun to the girl’s head? I’d also would like to know why they decided to fire at the vehicle, knowing that the girl was in it and putting her at risk,” said Attias.
She said that the shot that hit one of the police officers may have hit him by accident and that Raz had merely fired in the air.
Asked how Raz could have stolen her husband’s firearm so easily, Attias responded that “The gun has been in my husband’s possession for years and none of the children ever approached it. There was never a danger. My children are aware of the risks.”
Attias’s girlfriend told police investigators on Friday that she believed that Raz had picked her up from her house that evening fully prepared to die.
“He picked me up in order to die,” she told investigators in her room in the hospital, where she was recovering from her overnight ordeal.
The girlfriend’s mother told reporters she had only met Raz Attias once, two weeks ago, and that she understood 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 he said that if they can’t be together, he prefers to kill himself,” said the mother.
Following the broadcast of the interview with Raz’s mother on Channel 2, the girlfriend’s sister issued a statement in which she said, “It is shameful that people are trying to blame my sister, a 17-year-old girl, for the tragic death instead of trying to examine where they went wrong. My sister is in a bad condition and we are trying to help her recover.”
Police were continuing to investigate the case.