Suspect in shooting at Memphis Jewish school was haunted by police killing of father

A source close to the family said that the father’s shooting by the police decades ago caused lasting trauma and mental health issues, and the man who fired a handgun outside a Jewish school in Tennessee on Monday was critically wounded by police gunfire.

Leaving the area earlier, raising concerns of a potential assault, yet without causing harm, he discharged multiple rounds outside the establishment. On Monday afternoon, Joel Bowman made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis while carrying a gun.

According to the Memphis Police Department, law enforcement located his vehicle in a neighboring town and apprehended him by firing their weapons when he exited his truck armed with a firearm.

On Tuesday evening, a reliable source informed the family of Bowman, a former student at the school and a Jewish individual, that he was hospitalized with severe injuries. Local media reports identified Bowman as a member of the Memphis district, which includes Congressman Cohen.

In 2004, the family initiated legal action against the city, claiming that Dr. Anthony J. Bowman, the spouse of Bowman, experienced bipolar disorder and was undergoing treatment for the ailment. Bowman’s mother contacted the authorities, reporting that her spouse was “behaving unpredictably and seemed to be emotionally overwhelmed.” The events surrounding his father’s demise in May 2003 closely resembled the incident where Bowman was shot by law enforcement officers.

At the current moment, Joel’s son was a minor. Officers shot and killed him. When the police arrived at the scene, they found Bowman, the older son, pointing a firearm at himself.

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2010. Bowman Anthony, who wrongfully killed him, did not pose a threat to anyone else, so the family sued the city.

On Saturday, Joel Bowman shared an image of his father’s tombstone on Facebook, accompanied by a lengthy and incomprehensible message. While expressing his emotional distress, he alluded to the impact of his “family-related suffering” and his position in “the realm beyond,” among several other recent internet updates.

The suspect, an old friend of Bowman’s, had drifted apart from his friends over the past 10 years, but recently reached out again, according to a close source to the family.

His reason for the shooting remains unclear, but the informant said he thought Bowman “wasn’t attempting to shoot anyone.”

“He stated that the individuals were aware of his difficulties, attributing some responsibility for the occurrence to the authorities. Despite receiving psychiatric treatment, he was still capable of purchasing firearms. He was a remarkable individual with certain psychological challenges that required attention, as well as enduring trauma stemming from his father.”

The Hebrew Academy Margolin posted a statement on Tuesday, expressing their gratitude to the Memphis police department for their swift response and extensive security measures, and stating that they were “saddened and shocked” by the incident. They also expressed their thanks to God for keeping everyone safe.

The Margolin Hebrew Academy is an Orthodox school that serves students from preschool through 12th grade. Although there were construction workers and staff present on the website, the school session was not in progress at the time of the shooting.

Bowman graduated from the school in 2009 and received a scholarship to study in Israel. His whereabouts in recent years were unclear.

Following the incident on Monday, authorities stated that the officers had successfully prevented a potential mass shooting scenario.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is overseeing the inquiry of the matter.

The Community Secure Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions in Memphis and the US, is helping Bowman locate officers who assist with the shooting and law enforcement by sharing information.

Antisemitism has surged in the US after a deadly series of attacks on Jews, prompting Jewish institutions in the US to heavily invest in security measures.