GREENVILLE (FOX Carolina) -- The mother of a U.S. airman slain by a gunman in Germany said her 25-year-old son grew up in South Carolina and died in a senseless act of terrorism.
German officials said Thursday that Arid Uka, a 21-year-old temporary letter sorter with the postal service, has admitted targeting Americans when he opened fire with a handgun on a busload of 15 U.S. airmen at Frankfurt's airport who were on their way to deployment in Afghanistan, killing two and wounding two more.
Cathy Garner told The Associated Press on Thursday that her son, Nick Alden, of Williamston, found out about a month ago he would be deployed to Afghanistan. The airman previously served a six-month tour in Iraq.
Garner said her son always wanted to be a police officer growing up.
Both she and her ex-husband are U.S. Army veterans, and she said Alden's decision to become a member of the U.S. Air Force Security Forces was a perfect fit.
"He was a fun boy, a loving boy growing up, and he became a good man," Garner said.
Garner said her son was a loving father and devoted husband.
Alden graduated from Palmetto High School in 2003, Principal Mason Gary said.
Gary said, although he has not seen Alden in several years, he still remembers what a great kid he was, and he always expected great things from him.
"Nick was a very quiet kid, a good young man, a nice young man," Gary said. "It's a sad day for our Palmetto High School family. I'm very proud of Nick and his service to our country. Our prayers and our sympathies go out to his family."
Gary said he had been told that Alden confronted the gunman during the shootings.
"That TMs something he would have done anyway; that was his job," Garner said.
A federal judge in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Thursday ordered the suspect held in prison on two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, pending further investigation.
German investigators said, so far, the indications are that Uka turned only recently to Islamic extremism. They said he is a member of the generation with an immigrant background but raised in Europe, some of whom have become radicalized, to the shock and dismay of their elders.
German officials said that he had contact with other radicals through social networking sites and elsewhere, but it appears he was not part of a terrorist organization.
"The fact that some fanatic -- because we don TMt believe the way they believe -- could take the life of my son, who is protecting his country and the rights of those of us who enjoy a free world, that makes me very angry," Garner said.
FOX Carolina News has learned that Alden TMs wife and two children are in England and are expected to return to the Upstate in the coming days.
His family said details about his funeral arrangements are still in the planning stages.
(This story courtesy FOX Carolina and FOXCarolina.com.)