Fox News reporter John Roberts called host Greta van Susteren a conspiracy theorist for alleging that the family of the shooter who killed five soldiers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week may have concocted a story about his depression and substance abuse.
In a segment on van Susteren’s show on Monday, Roberts was reporting on the FBI investigation over Mohammad Abdulazeez, who opened fire at a Navy reserve center on Thursday. One of Abdulazeez's family members said he had a history of depression and drug and alcohol abuse, and the FBI is currently investigating his Internet searches and personal writings.
“Now Greta, we should point out that he had hid these depression and drug and alcohol problems for a long time, but somehow it all seemed to come to a head last Tuesday when he rented this very flashy car, this silver convertible mustang and went on what family describes as sort of a 72-hour bender, drinking, snorting crushed caffeine, roaring around the mountain roads around Chattanooga until three in the morning,” Roberts said. “It's then that this family representative believes he decided he was going to commit suicide, in the most murderous fashion.”
Van Susteren cut him off, arguing that his depression does not excuse his act of terrorism. This set off a testy exchange between her and Roberts.
Roberts: I think you could read this a couple of ways. You can read this as yes, this was a kid who was depressed. He was mentally ill and acted out in the most heinous and murderous fashion. Or, if you are a conspiracy theorist, you can think the family is trying get some cover with the story to suggest that no, their son was not a terrorist when, in fact, he may well have been.
Van Susteren: Or a third version is that the family doesn't want to face the fact that he is a terrorist having expressed anti-American thoughts and on one day, he decided to take out five people.
Roberts: Exactly, that’s what I was getting at.
Van Susteren disagreed that it was a conspiracy, and insisted that the shooter was a terrorist. Law enforcement officials are classifying the shooting as domestic terrorism but have insisted that there are no links between Abdulazeez and terrorist organizations such as ISIS.
“I don't see that as a conspiracy,” she said. “To me, it's like, you know, I think of those families, you know, in grief and after the five are murdered, and all day long, I have heard about how he was depressed. Talk about depressed. Lose a family member at the end of a gun.”
When Roberts said that the grieving family members need answers, van Susteren concluded that “answers are not excuses.”
Watch the exchange above.