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March 28, 2002
Author: La Monica Everett-Haynes, Staff, firstname.lastname@example.org
Three days before he allegedly shot two diners at a Denny’s, John Paul Brown phoned a close friend and said he had bought a .22-caliber rifle to shoot himself.
Instead, sheriff’s investigators say, Brown used the weapon on others, killing a 35-year-old pregnant mother and critically wounding a 67-year-old Sierra Vista man in an apparent random act of violence.
Brown, who was under investigation for allegedly possessing child pornography, surrendered to deputies immediately after Monday’s shooting.
Ricky Clark described Brown, a friend for 18 years, as a quiet, reserved man who was tortured with memories of being molested as a child.
He said Brown’s demons were born from haunting memories he could not erase.
“He told me, ‘I thought it was sick before, but now it’s compulsive, and I can’t stop,’ ” Clark said of the phone conversation he had with Brown last Friday.
“It was like he was looking at those pictures and seeing children being victimized by adults, like he had” been, Clark said. “He wanted to be able to point to somebody else and say, ‘You’re the victim now.’ ”
Brown, who would not say where he was during the phone call, had been staying at Clark’s home since September to “get himself together.”
Clark said he last saw Brown on March 5, the day FBI agents with a search warrant followed Brown home from the post office. Agents found letters and child pornography on a videocassette in Brown’s room, Clark said.
Clark said he believes that night triggered a string of events that led to the shootings.
“All the stuff that drove him to this is internal,” Clark said. “I’ve never seen him assault anyone or beat up anybody or choke anyone.”
Clark and his wife said they did not learn of Brown’s alleged obsession with child pornography until federal agents showed up with the search warrant.
“We would have never allowed him into our home and around our daughters if we knew,” said Merya Clark.
The couple has two daughters, ages 4 and 7.
“He didn’t do drugs. He was a good guy, and he wasn’t violent at all,” she said. “I know John is suffering inside.”
Brown, 30, was changing from a belligerent punk rocker into a responsible, hard-working individual, Ricky Clark said.
Brown began working at a gas station on Golf Links Road as a cashier and was seeking counseling for his childhood trauma, Merya Clark said.
Brown was taking medication to stabilize his depression and was looking for an apartment, she said. Brown was taking Paxil, a prescribed medication intended to treat obsessive-compulsive behavior, she said.
“Then the FBI embarrassed him, and he lost all of his friends, and now his family is upset with him,” Ricky Clark said.
Brown had been hiding his obsession for at least five years, Clark said he told him.
Brown is in the Pima County Jail on $1 million bond. He faces at least one count of first-degree murder and attempted murder.