Terrorism suspect stripped of parental custody, living in Egypt in months before attack
DAUPHIN COUNTY, Penn. (WHP-TV) - Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico, investigators and officials with the Department of Homeland Security have released few updates on their investigation into the man shot and killed by police after opening fire on two police officers near Pennsylvania's State Capitol building Friday.
DA Marsico and officials with DHS previously stated Ahmed Amin El-Mofty was a naturalized U.S. citizen who came from Egypt on a family-based immigrant visa and that he had visited Egypt as recently as October 2017. But many questions still remain on El-Mofty's whereabouts before the attack.
Now, records of his divorce and subsequent custody proceedings are providing more insight into his travels and location.
Read the documents here:
According to a Petition For Modification Of A Custody Order filed on Feb. 27, 2017 with the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas by his ex-wife, El-Mofty had not had contact with his children for the last two years. The February 2017 document did not state El-Mofty's location, but a Custody Conciliation Summary Report filed two months later in April 2017 states the father did not attend the custody hearing. It explained:
The Mother filed a Petition for Modification of a Custody Order. The Father had left the country and moved to Egypt, leaving no forwarding address or phone number. The Petition for Modification was mailed to his last known address in Harrisburg, and was not returned. It is unknown whether or not the Petition was forwarded to the father in Egypt. The Father has had no contact with the Mother or the Children for more than two (2) years. The Mother has been unable to obtain passports for the Children because she cannot locate the Father to obtain his signature.
A judge later granted the modification to the custody order giving sole legal and primary physical custody of the children to the Mother, clarifying, however, that El-Mofty would be able to have partial custody as "mutually agreed upon" should he return to the United States.
While officials stated they believe El-Mofty returned to the United States after traveling in the Middle East sometime in October, it is not clear if El-Mofty filed for custody of his children at that point.
Read the documents here:
WHAT WE KNOW RIGHT NOW
The active shooter that shot at police officers near the state capitol tonight has been identified as 51-year-old Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico confirmed that a state trooper was hit by a bullet while exchanging gunfire with El-Mofty at 5th and Market streets. She is not seriously injured and is expected to make a full recovery.
Police then engaged in gunfire with El-Mofty in the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, where he was killed.
Marsico says, El-Mofty has spent time in both Dauphin and Cumberland counties and recently was in the Middle East. DA Marsico did not speculate on any possible ties to terrorism, stating "We don't want people to run wild with speculation."
"We are asking the public if they have any information about Mr. El-Mofty to please call 911 and let us know, anyone that has any information about him," Marsico said.
According to police, the suspect fired shots at a Capitol police officers car around 4:30 p.m. Friday at 3rd and Walnut Streets. He then fired several shots at a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper at 5th and Strawberry Streets, slightly wounding her, according to police.
Police chased the subject to the 1700 block of Mulberry Street, exchanging fire with the suspect who was armed with two handguns at the time.
The suspect was shot and pronounced dead at the scene.
A "device" was scene near El-Mofty's body, prompting officials to call in the Harrisburg Bomb Squad. The situation was handled and law enforcement is now focusing their investigating into the man's history.
The Department of Homeland Security has called a Friday evening shooting at the Pennsylvania State Capitol building a terror attack.
DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton declared the shooting "a terror attack" in a Saturday press release.
El-Mofty became a naturalized U.S. citizen as a result of extended family chain migration, according to the DHS statement. "Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was admitted to the United States from Egypt on a family-based immigrant visa," Houlton said.
The DHS official said the shooting in Harrisburg highlights theTrump administration's concerns about extended family chain migration.
"Both chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program have been exploited by terrorist to attack our country," Houlton stated. He continued that these immigration programs "make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American."
During a cabinet meeting Wednesday, President Donald Trump promised to end chain migration, claiming the immigration program allows the "worst people" into the country. "So, that's not going to be happening anymore. We're going to end it," Trump said.
There's "no doubt" a gunman who fired at police in several locations in the state capital, wounding one of them before they shot and killed him, was targeting police officers, a prosecutor said.
"He fired several shots at a Capitol police officer and at a Pennsylvania state police trooper in marked vehicles," Marsico told reporters, flanked by state police, Capitol police and FBI officials.
The gunfire began shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, when the man fired several shots at a state Capitol officer in downtown Harrisburg, striking his car several times and sending one shot "that went very close to hitting him," Marsico said. About 20 or 30 minutes later, he fired several shots at the state trooper, striking her with one of those shots.
The trooper is "doing well," is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery, Marsico said.
El-Mofty pursued the trooper to a residential neighborhood, where city and state police encountered him.
"He approached them with two handguns ... firing many shots at those police officers," and the officers returned fire, killing him, Marsico said.
Marsico asked for information from the public about the man, who also had ties to the city and its western suburbs across the Susquehanna River. He declined to comment on whether the man was known to police.
Marsico expressed gratitude to state and local police for bringing a rapid end to an episode he said could have been much worse.
"This could have been a really tragic incidence with this individual firing many shots at police cars in downtown Harrisburg in the midst of rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon and then coming up here in a residential neighborhood and firing again many shots," he said.
A prosecutor says authorities are still investigating the motives of an Egyptian man who shot at police in several locations in Pennsylvania's state capital, wounding one of them, before dying in a shootout.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico gave no new information Tuesday about Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty's motives. The 51-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen fired at a police officer Friday afternoon in front of the state Capitol and later at a state trooper, wounding her.
El-Mofty was killed in a confrontation with city and state police officers about a mile from the Capitol.
Marsico says agents know where El-Mofty purchased his guns. The FBI and Pennsylvania State Police are aiding the investigation.
Neighbors and the Muslim community are weighing in as details continue to come in about 51-year-old Ahmed El-Mofty.
The Central PA Muslim community issued a statement condemning the attack.
Meanwhile, an ex-brother-in-law of El-Mofty says he hopes a thorough investigation helps answer questions that remain unanswered.
People who live near El-Mofty's estranged wife and two children say they're shocked.
El-Mofty's ex-brother-in-law says he didn't have a lot of contact with the family and hasn't lived with them in six years.
One neighbor says he had never seen El-Mofty or witnessed anything out of the ordinary at the home.
“I say hello to what seemed like a grandmother," Juan Londono says. "She’ll go by and pick up the little girl from the bus, friendly people.”
Londono says regardless of what El-Mofty may have done, his heart goes out to his children.
“You just feel bad for the kids," Londono says. "When they go back to school everyone is going to be gossiping and no one knows all the truth.”
The Central PA Muslim Community released a statement saying in part, “We are absolutely horrified and sickened by the targeting of those who serve to protect us each day...the teachings of Islam are very clear in condemning violence.”
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security are calling Friday's shooting spree an act of terror, but investigators haven't said if El-Mofty had any ties to known terror organizations.