Pentagon stabbing suspect had a criminal record in metro Atlanta

Austin Lanz, 27, was out on bond following numerous Cobb County charges

The man accused of stabbing a Pentagon officer to death on Tuesday was out on bond on two criminal cases in Cobb County, including one where he was accused of seriously injuring two deputies while in jail, court records show.

After fatally stabbing Officer George Gonzalez, 27-year-old Austin William Lanz used the officer’s service weapon to kill him himself outside the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. military, the FBI Washington field office said Wednesday. The building was temporarily on lockdown Tuesday after the officer was attacked on a bus platform.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, Lanz exited a bus at the Pentagon Transit Center in Arlington, Virginia, and “immediately, without provocation” attacked Gonzalez with a knife, the FBI said in a social media post.

“A struggle ensued, in which the subject mortally wounded Officer Gonzalez and then shot himself with the officer’s service weapon,” the FBI said.

Gonzalez, a New York native and Army veteran who served in Iraq, had been on the police force for three years, The Pentagon Force Protection Agency said Wednesday. A civilian bystander was also injured during the incident and was treated and released from a local hospital, the FBI said.

In a statement, Lanz’s family said they are “devastated by the loss of our son, Austin, and of officer George Gonzalez,” according to CNN. The family added that the man struggled with “many mental health challenges” throughout his life, CNN reported.

“Unfortunately, despite time spent in the criminal justice system with their special requirements his hospital stays and numerous professional mental health evaluations, Austin did not receive any official diagnosis, therefore, he was unable to sufficiently deal with his mental health nor get the help he so desperately needed.”

Court records show Lanz had open criminal cases in Cobb on several charges, including aggravated battery against an officer, terroristic threats and burglary.

Lanz had twice been caught on camera ― in July 2020 and February ― leaving inappropriate photographs and notes in a neighbor’s mailbox, according to police. In April, he burglarized the same home in his Acworth-area neighborhood and was arrested, his warrant states.

On April 24, that homeowner’s security camera captured Lanz using a crowbar to enter a back door and stayed inside for 13 minutes, according to his arrest warrant.

“When informed that he was being placed under arrest for ‘burglary’ said accused stated, ‘but I didn’t take anything,’” Lanz’s warrant states. “Said accused then went on to make statements about police having planes flying over the neighborhood, and that we had been tracking his phone.”

His bond was set at $8,500 after Lanz was booked into the Cobb jail, records show. Before he was released, additional charges were added for Lanz when he attacked Cobb deputies, a second warrant states.

Lanz is accused of dislocating one deputy’s thumb. A second deputy suffered a torn ACL and chipped bone when they were attacked while attempting to place Lanz in a cell, records show.

“During attempts to restrain said accused he verbally stated he wanted to fight all the present deputies, stating the deputies were ‘gay’ for ganging up on him and asking to have his restraints removed so he could fight them one-on-one,” an arrest warrant states.

In May, Cobb Magistrate Judge Michael McLaughlin dismissed two charges against Lanz but found probable cause existed and the case was transferred to superior court. His bond was reduced to $30,000 and he was released from the Cobb jail, but bond stipulations ordered Lanz to undergo both mental and substance abuse evaluations, court records show.

On July 19, a request for Lanz to change his address was granted by a judge, but court documents did not list his address.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Phillip Brent said it was his home that Lanz targeted. Brent said he and a former fiancee were repeatedly harassed by Lanz.

“I wish there was a better way to address those mental health issues that people have,” said Brent, who shared a backyard fence with Lanz. “It feels like it was just a clear failure of our system to help someone out who needed that help.”

Brent had reported Lanz to the police prior to the burglary. Brent said he was frustrated, telling the AP that the harassment claims weren’t taken seriously and then Lanz was freed on bond.

Lanz had enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2012 but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never earned the title Marine, the Corps said.

A Marietta attorney who previously represented Lanz in his Cobb cases told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday she referred the case to a different attorney and that a statement would be issued at a later time.

Authorities haven’t said if they’ve determined why Lanz picked the Pentagon for violence. The investigation continues.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.