Hospital Shooting Update: Abdo Ibssa’s neighbors describe nice, but troubled man

Above: Al’s Market, a business run by Abdo Ibssa, has been
shut down. There is no word when it will reopen. (
Steve Butera
Updated: 4/21/2010 7:31:33 PM

Neighbors near the business operated by Abdo Ibssa said he was a nice man who experienced mental health problems.

“Because you never knew what attitude he had,” said Jack Chesney. He lives near Al’s Market on University Avenue near downtown Knoxville. That business was operated by Ibssa.

“Some days he’d be cool. Some days, he’d be mean and take it out on whoever,” Chesney said.

Police say Ibssa shot three people, then himself April 19 at Parkwest Hospital. One victim and Ibssa died. He left a note, according to police, that a microchip had been placed in him during surgery. Neighbors knew about the man’s fear.

Video: Who is Abdo Ibssa?

“We’ve heard him say crazy things and do crazy things,” said neighbor George Johnson. “The chip they’re talking about–I don’t know where that came from, but he kept on thinking that the government put a chip in him.”

Despite the problems Ibssa had, those same people who spoke of his problems also said they’ll miss him. Some wrote on the sidewalk near Al’s, “God bless this place.”

“It’s unfortunate that it happened, you know. I hope he’s resting in peace, and I feel for the families that he did the tragedy to,” said Johnson.

Al’s Market has since been shut down. There is no word on when or if it will reopen.

Video: Police ID shooter as a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia

Watch: What cab driver saw of hospital shooting

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25 Responses to “Hospital Shooting Update: Abdo Ibssa’s neighbors describe nice, but troubled man”

  1. 1 J. Tolosa Apr 21st, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Another sad story. The saddest part is that all the victims were at their work place (I guess the wrong place at the wrong time, as the police said). I wish speedy recovery to the wounded and my thoughts and prayers are with the departed souls.

  2. 2 Gedefa Apr 21st, 2010 at 3:17 am

    First of all, I wish quick recovery for for the once that survived after being shot. To the deceased individual’s family and to the killer’s family, I extend my prayers so you may heal from your sorrow.

    Secondly, I would like to ask if there is any psychological evaluation done by mental health professionals to study the link between people from third world countries, specially countries like Ethiopia, where irrational actions can be attributed to the environment in their homeland where human beings are stripped off their human rights where every aspect of international human rights that is kept sacred by most industrialized nations is disregarded. It may seem a bit out there, but the issue of human beings treated like mad dogs by their own government’s secret service can make any person paranoid for life, in my opinion.

  3. 3 Mekonnen Apr 21st, 2010 at 7:00 am

    PPL what is causing all this craziness?

  4. 4 Tekeste Apr 21st, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Ato Gedefa,

    I think you are way out of line. I am confused about your comment. Why do you have to blame the Ethiopian government for everything. They have nothing to do with this. There is no evidence to link this to the Ethiopian government. Do not forget that the man is an American citizen who happened to have been born in Ethiopia. He can not be Ethiopia’s problem.

  5. 5 Selam Hailu Apr 21st, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Well, I think there is some truth to what Gedefa is saying, although it does not apply to this case. I agree with Tekeste in that sense only.

  6. 6 Brooks Apr 21st, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Mekonnen (Respectfully)

    The cause of this craziness shouldn’t be looked through blurred optical vision of group/individual behavior. This person was a very sick man who needed treatment requiring huge resources. Now we can inquire about what and why explanations of what stopped him? In my view though once we are detached from our considered survival environments and introduced into a new environment, we leave like satellites, orbiting through uncharterd zone.


  7. 7 Dr. Tseday Aberra Apr 22nd, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Without evaluating him, I will say with great confidence that this man was a Paranoid Schizophrenic.

    The unfortunate matter is that this mental illness could have been easily managed – not solved – but managed with psychotropic medications.

  8. 8 Lemma Apr 22nd, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Very sad.

  9. 9 Daniel Gashaw Apr 23rd, 2010 at 1:05 am


    Do you agree with me, in your professional opinion, that there is unhealthy taboo and fear associated with mental illness in the Ethiopian community? In my humble view, I think it is embedded in our culture, but mostly it stems from genuine lack of information and, in some cases, from willful ignorance.

    If you don’t mind, Dr. T. Aberra, what are the early signs of Schizophrenia? And how do you treat or prevent it?

    With much respect,

  10. 10 Tiffany Apr 24th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I used to shop at this market almost every day and I thought he was SOOOOO nice. He never acted mean or rude. This is a complete surprise!

  11. 11 rebeca Apr 27th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Hey nobody in here knows his background except what you read in the news. He was a student of radiology, working towards earning his doctorate, but unfortunately personal issues caused him to be stressed and led to this tragedy. Something he will never do in his right mind. The man I knew would not even hurt a fly. let alone anther human-being. Let us not be judgmental.

  12. 12 Announmous Apr 27th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    You guys don’t even know him and your’re talking shit. He was a family friend to us. Ever since he divorced his wife, he has had mental problems. Minutes before the attack, his brother Mohammed Ibssa called him but Abdo replied quickly that he was busy and he had to do something and ended the call. That was the time when he was getting into the taxi cab.

  13. 13 Fesseha Apr 28th, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Dan, answer to your question to the Doctor:

    Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder that makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, think clearly, manage emotions, and relate to others. These obstacles can get in the way of your ability to function normally and take care of yourself. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope.

    The truth is, schizophrenia can be successfully managed. The first step is identifying the signs and symptoms. The second step is seeking help without delay. The third is sticking with treatment. With the right treatment and support from family, friends, and health professionals, a person with schizophrenia can lead a happy, fulfilling life.

    Read the rest at :

  14. 14 DAMA Apr 28th, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    What a sad story!

  15. 15 Dr. Tseday Aberra Apr 29th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Selam, Daniel: I want to give you information on the early signs/symptoms of Schizophrenia. Generally, early signs of Schizophrenia are first seen around the age of 17/18 in boys and around 18/19/20 in girls. You would often see once normally functioning youngsters retreat from soical engagement/interaction, school, etc. They would tell you they’d rather stay at home and not be out and about. When at home, they tend to stay in their room and not come out to join family/friends. If they do come out, it’d be for a very short time. They become very uncomfortable and retreat rather quickly. They start to have difficulty in school or at work. Their personal hygiene (i.e., shower) will start to fail and begin to have bodily odor. You won’t be able to convince them to shower, by the way. They eat less and less saying the food is poisoned or tampered with something. They start to believe others are watching them, out to get them, and plotting against them. They start to close up windows and lock doors as a result. They look around and move about nervously. They begin to mumble to themselves (they hear voices in their heads that no one can hear). You can actually observe them talking to themselves and carrying on full conversation by themselves. Their belief about others, the world, the government starts to be odd and unlikely. You won’t be able to convince them differently in this case either. Research shows that this illness exists throughout the world equally. The gender make-up is about equal. There is a genetic disposition, but it is not a very strong correlation with Schizophrenia, per se, but with other types of mental illnesses. Research also shows that if there’s a predisposition to Schizophrenia, it “breaks” at a time of great, intense stress. Suicide, homicide, and other types of violences are common and are driven by the voices in their heads. They actually hear command in their heads which makes them paranoid, and orders them to carry out the violence. And they do. I hope this is useful information to you and to our community.

  16. 16 Daniel Gashaw Apr 29th, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you Doctor. The info scared the crap out of me though. Part of it sounds like me on the weekends, except that I eat more, not less :)

    Joking aside, this is a serious issue. Thanks!

  17. 17 Bettey May 1st, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Dr. Tseday Abera:

    I did not hear the Police say he was Paranoid Schizophrenic. Did they?

    It strikes me as a bit of a jump to diagnose someone “without evaluating him.” This whole talk is theoretical and it should be stated as such.

  18. 18 Dr. Tseday Aberra May 2nd, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Bettey: The police did not say anything because their job is to enforce the law, not to explain to the public why people commit crimes. Mental Health professionals do that. On your other point, many times, we professionals look at symptoms, descriptions, and observation, gather them all up and make a professional guess of what the psychological illness might be. That is what we are trained to do. As the saying goes though: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.”

  19. 19 Brooks May 2nd, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    When ever I come across such subjects I always remember a joke/fable” who saved the giant Elephant”. In this story a group of Elephant fed up of telling one of their colleague to “Use his head”did not work, so one day they advised him to see a psychiatrist. As advised this sick Elephant went to the psychiatrist. After he went through that UNcensored heaven with his Doctor in many sessions, the psychiatrist decided to let him go and join his crowd. However the Doctor wanted to asked him one question. Any questions? The Elephant answered, Doc can I use my unlisted Head now? The doctor was not happy with this response,gave him another session after he joined his friends. When he came back to see his Doctor in the next session, he brought all his bills.His complaint at this time was why he was charged $25 for every visit & $500 for the Couch. The story ends here.

    You see that the giant Elephant has come to his senses. Coming to my point of the Fable/the joke: “Who saved the giant Elephant.” This giant Elephant with a giant case of mental case is Saved by his peers first who advised him to seek help. Thanks.

  20. 20 ethiraco May 9th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Announomus stated that ever since he divorced his wife this guy had mental problems. Did he really divorce his wife or did she divorce him? Didn’t the divorce happen back in 2007? You claim to know the parties so correct me if I’m wrong.

    This is a tragedy for the victims and their families. Including the shooters four year old boy that is now without a father. Has the exwife spoke at all?

  21. 21 Stress Relief Apr 7th, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Very sad one .
    these type of are not the right way to bring peace or any thing like that.
    very miserable act.

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