Detroit – Anthony Powell, the man Dearborn police believe killed 20-year-old student Asia McGowan in a college classroom Friday before killing himself, posted hateful videos on the Web site YouTube in which he railed against black women and people who believe in the theory of evolution.
Powell’s grief-stricken parents – a retired Detroit Police officer and a registered nurse – said Sunday their 28-year-old son had a history of mental illness. Sam and Doris Powell said they tried for years to get help for their son’s clinical depression and other problems but never suspected he would hurt another person.
“If my child was going to kill himself, I would prefer he do himself, and not anybody else who was innocent,” Doris Powell said.
“We are sorry for the death of (Asia McGowan),” Sam Powell said. "That’s from the bottom of our hearts."
So disturbing were some of Powell’s YouTube videos that another man with a YouTube site reported him to Detroit Police and got an e-mail back April 2 from someone in the office of Chief James Barren, according to a video posted on YouTube.
“On behalf of the chief, I would like to thank you for contacting us,” said a message received by “Infamoustrag” on YouTube.
"I was unable to view the video. According to the site, I have to have a sign in.
"Do you recall exactly the content of the video? If it is too graphic, or you need to talk to me directly you may contact me at (phone number and officer’s name blacked out)."
A spokeswoman could not confirm Sunday whether Detroit Police had been contacted about Powell.
Infamoustrag, who lives in Virginia and did not want his real name used, said he was concerned when he combined Powell’s talk of suicide with him being upset over a girl. He sent an e-mail to Detroit Police warning of a possible suicide March 25 and provided a copy of the e-mail Sunday.
The e-mail did not mention the possibility Powell would kill someone else…
Powell, of Detroit, took a gun to Henry Ford Community College on Friday and shot and killed McGowan in a classroom, shortly before 1 p.m., before killing himself.
Campus officials ordered a lockdown until Dearborn Police could confirm a gunman was not still at large. The college reopens today for meetings for faculty, staff and students, according to its Web site; most classes resume Tuesday.
Turahn McGowan, Asia’s father, said Sunday he was shocked by snippets of Powell’s YouTube videos he saw on the television news and felt there were warning signs that could have prevented his daughter’s death, particularly if police were warned about Powell. “It’s like they wait until after the fact,” he said.
Infamoustrag said on his site that Powell had talked about a girl he liked named Asia. But on the day of the killing, Powell deleted or made private the videos in which he talked about murder and suicide so they could no longer be seen, Infamoustrag said in the video. “I tried my best to help,” Infamoustrag said in his video. "It was too late."
Don Cooper, 24 of Atlanta, a student and YouTube enthusiast who got to know Powell through the Internet, said he tried to encourage Powell to get help after Powell mentioned he had a shotgun and might do something stupid. But Cooper, who uses the YouTube handle “dc coop,” said he was shocked by the action Powell ultimately took.
Powell’s videos feature him sitting in his bedroom talking, and sometimes shouting, directly into a camera.
In one Powell video, titled “Black Women Don’t Deserve Respect,” Powell denounces black women as sexually promiscuous and says they “murder 1,500 babies a day” as a result of abortions. In another profanity-laced video, Powell attacks those who believe in evolution.
Doris Powell said her son was deeply religious and anti-abortion. He normally talked to his mother when something was troubling him, but she had been preoccupied recently by a serious stroke suffered by her father, who was also close to Anthony Powell, she said.
Anthony Powell had attended the community college off and on for years and recently said he was studying film and planned to go into the movie business, she said.
Powell worked at a variety of jobs, including at restaurants and a grocery store, his parents said. The Powells did not keep guns around the house and don’t know where he got the gun, she said.
“Tony was the type of child that basically stayed to himself,” she said. "He was a very shy type of kid and he didn’t make friends easily. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t do drugs.
“He never had a girlfriend.”