Friends and family members of Raz Attias, the 18-year-old man who was shot dead by volunteer police officers Thursday night after threatening to kill his girlfriend, criticized the police for being too quick to pull the trigger.
Maariv reported that during Attias’s funeral, in Petah Tikva on Friday, 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.
According to initial reports, Attias had stolen a weapon that belonged to his father, a major in the IDF, and the family car and picked up his girlfriend on Thursday evening. Close to midnight, they reached the woods near Beit Shemesh, in the Jerusalem area.
Police volunteers were alerted to the goings on after Channel 2 news forwarded them Attias’s suicide note. They located the couple by tracking his cellphone.
When the cops approached the 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.”
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.
Reports indicated that the story began a few weeks ago, when it was discovered that the young woman was pregnant. The couple planned on suicide, and shared the intention with their friends.
A police official expressed shock and dismay at the fact that the couple’s friends didn’t alert police to their plans.
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.