A Keyes man facing federal terrorism charges seemed to have a thing against white people a few years ago in high school, said a classmate and neighbor of Bernard Raymond Augustine.
"He hated our teacher because he was a white man,” said the classmate at Pitman High and Roselawn Continuation High schools, both in Turlock. "He said white people annoyed him," the classmate said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
In an email, Roselawn Principal Felipe Meraz said Augustine graduated in December 2013 and had "shared plans for pursuing a career medicine."
"He was a quiet, well-mannered student who attended school on a regular basis, and, to my knowledge, never expressed any unusual or surprising views. He did not belong to any clubs at RHS," Meraz said.
Augustine, now 21, was intercepted in Tunisia on his way to join Islamic State fighters in early 2016, federal authorities say. Tunisian officials imprisoned Augustine for two years, then released him to FBI agents who returned him Tuesday to face charges in Brooklyn, NY.
His former classmate and neighbor, who lived down the street in Keyes, said Augustine was generally quiet, sat in the rear of his classes and appeared to have few or no friends. He talked more openly with the classmate's younger brother when the two boys walked home from school, the classmate said.
“He used to talk about the Taliban, that Islamic stuff. He was into that. … We used to think it was just stupid talk.”
Augustine lived with his parents and two sisters, the neighbor said.
Prosecutors said Augustine researched how Americans might join the Islamic State and bought a one-way ticket to North Africa without telling his family. Before leaving, he viewed online beheadings at the hands of terrorists and predicted in a social media post that radical Islamic warriors would control the world within 100 years.
Augustine was arraigned in federal court Tuesday and ordered held without bail. Federal defense attorney, Samuel I. Jackson, was appointed to represent him.
"Unfortunately, I can't give you the other side today," Jackson said in a brief telephone conversation. "I will be sharing that information at some point, just not today."
Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390