Friend noted issues in accused terrorist's past

Joshua Goldberg faces federal terrorism change

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The 20-year-old sitting in a federal jail cell accused of plotting to bomb a 9/11 memorial event had no criminal record, but a former neighbor and friend observed signs of trouble in his past.

Agents said Joshua Goldberg, who lived in Orange Park with his parents, encouraged others to build a pressure-cooker bomb filled with rat poison-laced shrapnel and set it off at a firefighters' stair-climb event in Kansas City this weekend.

FBI agents arrested Goldberg Thursday on charges of distribution of information relating to explosive, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

Agents said he claims to have been a part of an attack on a cartooning convention in Garland, Texas, a few months ago in which two gunman were killed by an off-duty police officer.

A former neighbor in East Arlington, also a 20-year-old, told News4Jax she has known Goldberg since elementary school. She said he developed into a reclusive person.

"I knew him my whole childhood," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. "I just wasn't shocked. I mean, he was always kind of different."

She asked us not to show her face, but this 20-year-old Jacksonville woman said she's known terror suspect Joshua Goldberg for much of her life.

"It was fun when we were younger. I remember we would play 'Cowboys and Indians' and games and stuff like that. But after that, I just never really talked to him," she said.

She said Goldberg changed after they attended Sabal Palm Elementary together, that he was less social, more loner, and eventually left the school.

"He was more of a hermit-style kid after he became home-schooled. That's around the time he started acting different. He would never come outside. He would never play with any of the kids on the street."

She hadn't seen Goldberg since the family moved to Orange Park and hadn't heard about him until the news broke that FBI agents claim he encouraging others to take part in violent ISIS-style terrorist attacks on American and Australian soil.

"It is so crazy," Goldberg's former neighbor and friend said. "Someone I have known my whole life."

She said she feels for his family -- nice people caught in a terrible situation.

News4Jax spoke with Chris Hamer, a local computer security specialist. Hamer said Goldberg probably started leaving digital tracks.

"You can create all sorts of identities. However, you still have to access the host servers," Hamer said. "That access, unless you use a tour gateway, is going to be tied to whatever IP address you are using to access the Internet. And that is traceable and trackable."

Hamer said Goldberg also probably gave himself away when he communicated online with an FBI confidential informant.

"It's a good probability they used software that the CI had to capture session information or IP address information," Hamer said.

Goldberg's father told News4Jax Thursday night that he wasn't aware of any of his son's alleged threats. Their current neighbors in Orange Park didn't know much about him at all, saying the son rarely left the home. 

There was a 2010 call for service to the Clay County Sheriff's Office from the Goldberg's home. According to records, Frank Goldberg, Joshua's father, told deputies his son was severely depressed and sniffing inhalants.

"It is just really sad, especially with their parents," the woman said. "I'm just really sad for them and we are obviously all sending our prayers for them."

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