On Tuesday, Azam Soofi of Overland Park struggled to make sense of it all.
“We are grieving,” he said, standing at the threshold of his home on 158th Place.
His son, Nadir Soofi, was dead. Police had identified him, along with Elton Simpson, both of Phoenix, as the two gunmen who on Sunday, firing assault rifles, tried to enter an event in Texas where cartoonists were taking part in a contest that featured drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. Both Soofi, 34, and Simpson, 30, were stopped, killed by police.
Azam Soofi, an engineer, declined to talk about the assault. He was at a loss to reconcile the boy he knew with the actions on Sunday.
“My son was a great son,” Soofi said, “a caring soul, a beautiful person. He lived a real privileged life all his life.”
Soofi said it was through news accounts that he first became aware of his son’s involvement. He was shocked.
“He was a very humble, soft-spoken person,” Soofi said of his son, who did not grow up in the Kansas City area. Azam Soofi moved here about 5 years ago.
Soofi’s wife, Nadia Azam, who later came to the door, spoke at a frustrated pitch, not at all excusing her stepson’s actions on Sunday, she said, but raising questions about the purpose of the cartoon contest.
“My question is,” she said, “what did they (the event organizers) get out of this? How was this event a productive thing for either now or in the future? How was this productive for the average U.S. citizen? Can you answer that one question? How does it make America a better place? This is what I want to know.”
She said it was not for her to judge whether the event was designed as an expression of free speech or to incite.
“That’s for scholars to debate,” she said. “But when you beef up security so much, you know that what you’re doing is either illegal or immoral.”
No, we knew that people like her stepson might try to do something illegal or immoral.
“He didn’t have to do it,” she said of Nadir Soofi’s actions. “I’m not defending him. I’m not saying what he did was right or wrong. But how was this event productive? What did it accomplish?”
It accomplished the public spectacle of people showing they would not bow to violence and threats.