Man facing terrorism charges told doctor ‘I do want to cause a mass shooting’

A man on trial accused of intending to commit acts of terrorism told a doctor he wanted to “carry out a mass shooting” and appeared to “almost idolise” US killer Elliot Rodger.

Gabrielle Friel, 22, told his social worker he “feels like Elliot Rodger”, who he described as an American spree killer.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard Friel attended the social worker and psychiatrist after stabbing a police officer at Edinburgh College’s Granton campus in 2017 in what led to him being charged with attempted murder.

A former classmate told the court on the day of the stabbing Friel told him he planned to carry out a knife attack in the cafeteria because he was being bullied online.

Police officer stabbing
Police officer stabbing

The High Court heard agreed evidence that Friel ordered weapons, including a crossbow and machete, to be delivered to his home in the city in summer 2019.

Giving evidence, his psychiatrist Dr Alexander Quinn said he met Friel at an outpatient clinic attached to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital on August 16 that year after his social worker emailed with concerns.

He said Friel appeared “desperate, suicidal and was angry with the world”, spoke of his lack of relationships and felt that “girls and women had never been interested in him and would never likely be in the future”.

The psychiatrist said: “He was hopeless… I was concerned he showed evidence of ‘last resort’ thinking.”

Friel told him: “If I do plan out an attack it’s real. I do want to cause a mass shouting but it’s hard, things could go wrong.

Dr Quinn said he was “really worried” after Friel showed him images of body armour and a crossbow he had bought online and was concerned Friel “felt he was left with no choice but to use those weapons to cause people harm”.

He called the police who detained Friel.

Dr Quinn said Friel was “well-versed” in American school shooters but says he did not get a clear view on his feelings about Elliot Rodger.

Earlier, the court heard Friel’s social worker Sarah Drummond’s email to Dr Quinn said Friel was “very fixated on (almost idolising) Elliot Rodgers (Californian spree killer in a university) and he feels just like him”.

It said: “He feels jealous of others and feels that no girls are interested in him. He wants to project his anger on to the world and described media attention from mass killing as the the only way the world would take notice.”

Questioned by Friel’s lawyer, Brian Gilfedder, she said Friel told her he did not intend to harm anyone when she asked him.

Friel told her stabbing the police officer at the college was an “extended suicide attempt” as he wanted police to kill him.

Jordan Wilson, 21, a former classmate on a computing and digital studies course at the college, said Friel told him on the day that “he was being bullied online and he was going to hold someone hostage in the cafeteria that day”.

“He showed me a knife that was in his bag,” he said.

The court heard Mr Wilson told police on the day that Friel said he was planning to attack the cafeteria with a knife that he had bought.

The court heard Friel stabbed a police officer that day while being restrained.

Friel is said to have had a crossbow, scope, crossbow arrows, a machete and a ballistic vest in connection with this at various locations in Edinburgh between June 1 and August 16 last year, including his home, a social work centre and a hospital.

He is also accused of preparing for terrorist acts by conducting online research in relation to spree killings during this time, particularly those expressing motivation from or affiliation with incels – involuntary celibates.

Friel is said to have “expressed affinity with and sympathy for one incel-motivated mass murderer” and to have expressed “a desire to carry out a spree killing mass murder”.

He is alleged to have test-fired the crossbow at a drinks can at his home at 163/2 Comely Bank Road, Edinburgh.

The 22-year-old is also accused of expressing an intention – at the Orchard Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and a social work centre in the city on August 14 and 16 last year – to commit a terrorist attack.

Friel, who is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, has denied all charges against him.

The trial, before Judge Lord Beckett, continues.