On Tuesday, Azam Soofi of Overland Park struggled to make sense of it all.
“We are grieving,” he said, standing at the threshold of his home on 158th Place.
His son, Nadir Soofi, was dead. Police had identified him, along with Elton Simpson, both of Phoenix, as the two gunmen who on Sunday, firing assault rifles, tried to enter an event in Texas where cartoonists were taking part in a contest that featured drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. Both Soofi, 34, and Simpson, 30, were stopped, killed by police.
Azam Soofi, an engineer, declined to talk about the assault. He was at a loss to reconcile the boy he knew with the actions on Sunday.
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“My son was a great son,” Soofi said, “a caring soul, a beautiful person. He lived a real privileged life all his life.”
Soofi said it was through news accounts that he first became aware of his son’s involvement. He was shocked.
“He was a very humble, soft-spoken person,” Soofi said of his son, who did not grow up in the Kansas City area. Azam Soofi moved here about 5 years ago.
Soofi’s wife, Nadia Azam, who later came to the door, spoke at a frustrated pitch, not at all excusing her stepson’s actions on Sunday, she said, but raising questions about the purpose of the cartoon contest.
“My question is,” she said, “what did they (the event organizers) get out of this? How was this event a productive thing for either now or in the future? How was this productive for the average U.S. citizen? Can you answer that one question? How does it make America a better place? This is what I want to know.”
She said it was not for her to judge whether the event was designed as an expression of free speech or to incite.
“That’s for scholars to debate,” she said. “But when you beef up security so much, you know that what you’re doing is either illegal or immoral.”
“He didn’t have to do it,” she said of Nadir Soofi’s actions. “I’m not defending him. I’m not saying what he did was right or wrong. But how was this event productive? What did it accomplish?”
Federal authorities say Soofi and Simpson were wearing body armor, and one of the men shot a security officer in the leg before a Garland police officer fired on the two gunmen. After his initial shots, nearby SWAT officers also fired at the attackers. The security officer was treated at a hospital and released.
On Tuesday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the assault, marking the first time the terror group has taken credit for an attack in the United States. But it was unclear whether the group actually directed Sunday’s shooting in the Dallas suburb or if the two gunmen were inspired by the group to act on their own.
Simpson was arrested in 2010 after being the focus of a four-year terror investigation. But despite amassing more than 1,500 hours of recorded conversations, including Simpson’s discussions about fighting nonbelievers for Allah and plans to link up with “brothers” in Somalia, the government prosecuted him on only one minor charge — lying to a federal agent. He faced three years of probation and $600 in fines and court fees.
Simpson had worshiped at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix for about a decade, but he quit showing up over the past two or three months, the president of the mosque said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.