WASHINGTON — The man who police say rammed his car into a security barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Friday and was fatally shot by police after emerging from the vehicle with a knife was a lifelong athlete who in recent months had shown growing support on social media for Louis Farrakhan and the extremist Nation of Islam group.
Noah Green, 25, was identified as the suspect in the attack that killed one U.S. Capitol Police officer and injured another, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the inquiry. Those who knew Green described him as quiet, athletic and non-violent but also told USA TODAY they were concerned about recent changes in his behavior.
Police say Green rammed a dark-colored sedan into a security barrier outside the U.S. Capitol, killing Officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police Department. After the crash, police say, Green got out of the car with a knife in his hand, ran toward officers and ignored their commands. Officers opened fire and killed him.
D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said Green’s attack did not “appear to be terrorism-related.”
Contee said police are investigating to determine Green’s motive. He said Green was not known to either D.C. Police or the USCP and was not previously considered a threat to lawmakers.
People who went to school with Green and played sports with him growing up described him as the average jock: athletic, popular, even working at a gym in college.
The violence on Friday, they say, was jarring compared to the person they knew, but Green’s recent social media activity seemed to offer clues that he’d changed.
Green was born in West Virginia but spent most of his life growing up in a sparsely populated area of Virginia with a large family, including nine siblings, USA TODAY learned through multiple interviews. He was athletic, playing basketball and football growing up.
He graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2019, where he played football as a defensive back, a spokesman for the school in Newport News, Virginia, told USA TODAY. On his biography page for the team, Green noted he was majoring in business and the “person in history he’d most like to meet is Malcolm X.”
Andre Toran, who was a captain on the football team at the time, said Green was a “really quiet guy” who would crack jokes every once in a while but usually just smiled instead of chiming in on conversations.
“I know people say this all the time, but the guy who I played with is not the same person who did this,” said Toran, a reporter at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Toran said while he moved away to attend graduate school in Chicago, Green’s mental state became an issue of concern among their friends.
Toran shared a Facebook post from Green during the COVID-19 pandemic in which Green accused his roommates of drugging him. Green wrote that he’d moved out but was suffering from withdrawals that included seizures and a lack of appetite, along with “paranoia” and “depression.” He wrote in the post that he was also experiencing “suicidal ideation.”
Green’s Facebook profile was taken down Friday after the Capitol attack.
Others who knew Green started to see a change in what he posted on Facebook, including support for the Nation of Islam, an anti-Semitic extremist group, as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and its leader, Farrakhan.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Nation of Islam as a hate group that aims to uplift African Americans but promotes anti-Semitic and racist theology.
KC Humphries, who attended CNU with Green, told USA TODAY they worked together at the school’s gym.
“He kind of came off as the average football athlete,” she said.
But, she added, she noticed the recent changes in his social media posts.
“They were very weird. It was posts about joining his church and ‘one day you’ll see’ kind of stuff,” Humphries said. “It was just a lot of weird, kind of cult stuff.”
On what appeared to be Green’s Facebook page, he posted last month about struggling over the last several years and his issues during the pandemic, including losing a job. He talked about his recent “spiritual journey.”
“To be honest, these past few years have been tough, and these past few months have been tougher,” one post said. “I have been tried with some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my life. I am currently now unemployed, after I left my job, partly due to afflictions.”
But, he said, Farrakhan’s teaching had been a guiding path for him, calling the extremist leader “my spiritual father” and saying despite his path being thwarted, “Allah (God) has chosen me for other things.”
In other posts, Green shared speeches by Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammad, who previously led the Nation of Islam, and wrote about the end times.
“It was definitely surprising to see all this,” Humphries said of Green’s alleged involvement in Friday’s incident. “But, when I remembered the posts and connected the dots, it kind of adds up now.”
One of Green’s brothers told The Washington Post that Noah Green appeared to have mentally unraveled in the last several years. He abruptly moved from Virginia to Indiana and told his brother, Brendan, he was suffering from hallucinations, heart palpitations, headaches and suicidal thoughts. Brendan Green told the paper his brother informed him the drugs told him to move to Indianapolis.
In Indiana, Noah told his brother that people were attempting to break into his apartment. Brendan Green said he flew out to Indianapolis but didn’t see anything suspicious and told The Post that Noah’s “mind didn’t seem right.”
A few months ago, Noah Green moved to Botswana, his brother told the Post. The brothers kept in contact and at one point, Noah told Brendan that “his mind was telling him to basically commit suicide” and said he’d jumped in front of a car, Brendan told The Post. Several weeks ago, Brendan allowed Noah to come live with him after Noah said he was “in a really bad situation.”
Investigators on Friday were still digging into the suspect’s background and examining whether he had any history of mental health issues. They were also working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.