'I'm going to faint'; Family, friends react to arrest of Bay Area men charged with murder of Italian police officer

Gloria Keeley was shaken after hearing the news that her neighbor's son, 19-year-old Finnegan Elder and his friend, 18-year-old Gabriel Natale Hjorth are accused of stabbing an Italian police officer to death in Rome after an apparent drug deal gone wrong.

"I'm going to faint. I've known 'Fin' since he was born. The nicest guy and one of the nicest neighbors I have," said Keeley.

RELATED: 2 Tam High School grads in custody in Italy, accused of murdering police officer

Italian authorities say Elder and Natale Hjorth have confessed to being involved in a violent altercation that resulted in the stabbing death of the officer. There was a scuffle and the two are suspected of stealing a backpack.

Italian surveillance video shows two men, believed to be Elder and Natale Hjorth, running away with a stolen backpack belonging to an Italian citizen. Police say the two had threatened not to return it unless the man gave them 100 Euros and one gram of cocaine.

The Elder family put a note on the door of their San Francisco home requesting privacy.

RELATED: Finnegan Lee Elder: Who is the American student accused of fatally stabbing Italian officer Mario Cerciello Rega?

In a statement, the family said:

"We are shocked and dismayed at the events that have been reported, but have very little independent information about these events.. we have not been able to have any communication with our son."

Both Elder and Natale Hjorth graduated from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley in 2018.

"It's crazy to hear it happened to people from my high school, didn't expect that," said graduate Charlie Lupenow.

RELATED: 19-year-old students from San Francisco confess to fatally stabbing Italian policeman, according to Carabinieri

Lupenow and his friends knew Natale Hjorth at Tam High.

'I always saw him as a bit sketchy, but nothing this bad," said graduate Matt Kearney.

ABC7 News reached out to members of the Natale Hjorth family for comment but have not yet heard back.
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