Many people who knew Faisal Shahzad said they are surprised he is accused in the Times Square attempted bombing.
The 30-year-old son of a retired official in Pakistan's air force had a master's degree from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, a job as a budget analyst for a marketing firm in Norwalk, two children and a well-educated wife who posted his smiling picture and lovingly called him "my everything" on a social networking website.
But shortly after becoming a U.S. citizen a year ago, he gave up his job, stopped paying his mortgage and told a real estate agent to let the bank take the house because he was returning to Pakistan.
Shahzad was charged Tuesday with trying to blow up a crude gasoline and propane device inside a parked SUV amid tourists and Broadway theatergoers. Some say he seemed quiet, but normal. Others say that, as they look back, there were some red flags.
“He didn’t give any indication that he had evil in his heart in any way,” said Frank Del Vecchio, who Shahzad hired in 2008 to help him sell a house in Shelton. Del Vecchio remembers Shahzad as a mild-mannered guy with a wonderful family and beautiful wife.
Shahzad bought the house in 2004. That house is now in foreclosure. In September, his lender filed a lawsuit to foreclose. It’s roped off as part of a criminal investigation.
“I was in the house a lot. There was nothing to indicate that there was hate or anti-Americanism. There was no posters, no literature, nothing,” Del Vecchio said.
But not everyone remembers Shahzad as a mild-mannered man.
A broker who helped Shahzad buy the Shelton home said Shahzad told him he didn’t like then-President Bush or his policy in Iraq.
Another former real estate agent said she felt the family was a little off.
“I met, it was either the father or the uncle, and I don’t know, I just intuitively, the sense I got, it just wasn’t 100 percent right,” Jeanette Whitehead, of Trumbull, said.
After Shahzad left the home in Shelton, he moved into a Sheridan Street apartment in Bridgeport. Neighbors there don’t remember Shahzad standing out, only that he was a quiet man.
“Nothing alarmed me about him, because he was just a person in the neighborhood fixing his house. He didn’t talk much to people,” said Bill Jackson, a contractor working on the house next door to Shahzad’s apartment.
Many are shocked that Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who earned degrees from the University of Bridgeport and worked for the Affinion Group in Norwalk for three years, could be the man responsible for trying to set a bomb in New York City.
“It just shows you that you don’t know who’s next to you,” Jackson said.
“They try to fly under the radar screens. They come in and they’re perfect citizens until it’s time for them to do whatever it is their deeds are,” said Bridgeport Police Lt. David Daniels III.