PHOENIX — One of the two men suspected in a shooting in Texas that led authorities to search their Phoenix apartment lied to the FBI several years ago.
Court documents show that Elton Simpson was convicted in 2011 in federal court in Phoenix of making a false statement to the FBI in January 2010 about whether he had talked about traveling to Somalia.
Simpson was identified as one of the men killed Sunday by suburban Dallas police after the men opened fire at an event hosting a contest for Prophet Muhammad cartoons.
— Brian Ross (@BrianRoss) May 4, 2015
According to the documents, Simpson, an American Muslim, had talked with an FBI informant about wanting to go to Somalia, but later denied that he’d said anything like that.
Trial records showed that Simpson was the focus of a criminal investigation in 2006 because of his association “with an individual whom the FBI believed was attempting to set up a terrorist cell in Arizona,” U.S. District Judge Mary H. Murgia said in her order convicting Simpson.
reported that Simpson may have claimed responsibility for the shooting in a tweet, but the account has been taken down.
A Washington Post story identified the second man as Nadir Soofi.
Authorities searched the men’s apartment near 19th Avenue and Thunderbird. An FBI spokeswoman said no other locations in Phoenix were part of the investigation.
Simpson’s father, Dunston Simpson, told ABC News, “We are Americans and we believe in America,” he said.
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said he has met both men, and especially used to know Simpson pretty well. Shami described Simpson as a “quiet, respectful person.”
“Nadir, I didn’t have a lot of interactions with him,” Shami said of Soofi. “He was a business owner. He didn’t frequent the mosque.
“And Elton, he used to frequent the mosque, but after his arrest from the FBI in 2011, he didn’t frequent the mosque.”
Shami said he didn’t see any signs of radicalization in the two prior to 2011.
“(Simpson) was interested in knowing more about the faith. He was eager to study,” Shami said.
“It is disappointing for a person to go a different route and to get radicalized. And the other thing is — it’s always when things like that happen — it’s a disappointment because of the potential of a person.”
KTAR’s Jim Cross and Cooper Rummel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.