The man accused of shooting and killing a stranger in an Owings Mills movie theater was a "good guy" but suffered from mental illness, the 24-year-old suspect's family said yesterday.
"This was a great shock to our family and to those who knew my brother," Gul A. Jabbar, the sister of suspect Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar, said in a written statement on behalf of the family. "This is a time of great grief."
In a telephone interview, she added that her brother had never done anything like this. "No one had any idea. Not even his family, and we're the closest to him."
Mujtaba Jabbar is charged with shooting Paul Schrum, a 62-year-old medical supplies salesman from Pikesville, as Schrum watched X-Men: The Last Stand on Thursday night, according to police. About 20 minutes into the film, a gunman stood up, ordered everyone to get on the floor and fired four shots.
Afterward, police say, Jabbar placed the handgun on a counter in the lobby, told theater management he had shot someone and waited for officers to arrive. He is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail.
"My brother is a good guy, he hated lying, cheating and hurting anyone," Gul Jabbar, a 20-year-old college student, said in the statement. "He was also mentally ill and our family tried our best to get him the treatment, but he refused." Because doctors said he wasn't a threat to himself or anyone else, the family couldn't force him to get help, she said.
"He just wanted to handle it himself, but he couldn't," his sister said. His illness, which she believes developed in recent years, was never diagnosed.
Schrum, a City College graduate, was a married father of two and grandfather of two who most recently worked at University Pipette Services.
Mujtaba Jabbar attends medical school in the Caribbean, his sister said, but was home for the summer and living with his family in their home in an affluent Baltimore County neighborhood, Anton North. She described her brother as a quiet, studious person who loves science and keeps to himself.
Mujtaba Jabbar was a 2005 graduate of Loyola College, where he majored in biology, and a 2000 graduate of Mount Hebron High School in Howard County. His parents, who moved to this area from Texas about eight years ago, own several gas stations.
Gul Jabbar said her parents, who did not want their names used, spoke to their son on the phone after the incident.
"He doesn't really understand what he did. I personally don't think he knows where he is and what's going on. He's very confused," his sister said.
"We know that he has been mentally suffering and it is so horribly sad that someone's life was taken by him," she wrote in the statement. "Our prayers are with Mr. Schrum's family."