TUMON BAY, GUAM – For a former schoolmate of Chad Ryan De Soto, the news about the 21-year-old allegedly driving his car into and stabbing Japanese tourists Tuesday night in a Guam tourist area was shocking not only because it was so horrible, but also because it was not in his character, the friend said Wednesday.
According to the 19-year-old friend, the suspect “is the last person” she would expect to commit such violence, which left three Japanese dead and nearly a dozen injured.
“He was never violent,” the friend said, recounting when they were seniors together in the 2010-2011 school year at John F. Kennedy High School in the Tamuning area.
She said De Soto was musically inclined, a talented singer and guitarist who also took part in theater. He starred in a local short film while he was a student, she said.
He was a good friend to many, a good listener to their problems who never hesitated to tell them his opinions, she said.
As far as she can recall, De Soto never violated any school regulations, particularly those related to violence.
But, for reasons unknown to her, De Soto had attendance problems and was held back a year before graduating.
The friend said that after graduation, he tried his best to get a job but repeatedly failed, never even getting a callback for interviews.
Without a regular job, De Soto made videos and took photographs.
“He’s a good guy and very talented. He was the kind of guy you could talk to anytime because he would be there to listen,” she said.
But, she added, he also started selling marijuana. “He personally told me that. I told him, ‘I’m so disappointed in you.’ He just said he’s sorry. But I totally understand him, that feeling like there was really no other choice,” she said.
She also said she was certain De Soto would not target Japanese tourists, saying, “He was never a racist, he never hated the Japanese.”
Project: Inspire, the production group of De Soto’s film in 2011, released a statement saying “The Chad that we knew was a generous, caring and talented individual.”
It said De Soto had not worked with them in the last year so the group was not aware “of his affairs and other activities during his constant absence.”
Asked if she will visit De Soto, who is now in custody, the friend replied: “Can we be allowed to do so? I’m just really praying that he learns from this, that he can better himself out of this. Also, I’m hoping that he is OK.”
De Soto was formally charged Wednesday with murder, attempted murder, assault and possession of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.
He is being held on a $2 million cash bail.