BOSTON — A Massachusetts man killed while fighting with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group in Syria knew the risks but wanted to fight against evil, his family said Thursday.
Keith Broomfield, who was 36, is believed to be the first U.S. citizen killed while fighting alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State. He died in a June 3 battle in a Syrian village.
His older brother, Andy Broomfield, said he was shocked when his brother first told him about his plans but eventually understood his decisions.
"He believed in opposing evil," he said. "Somebody needs to stand up and oppose evil."
Dad Tom Broomfield said Keith Broomfield went to Syria with no contacts and knew it was "a crazy thing to do" but felt strongly that he needed to help in some way.
"He just felt he should be going," Tom Broomfield said.
Family members spoke to the media on Thursday outside their manufacturing business in Bolton, 30 miles west of Boston. They said they hope his body will be brought back to the U.S. on Saturday.
Broomfield graduated from Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton in 1997. His family said he had gotten into some trouble when he was younger but had turned to religion and changed his life.
Court records show he was arrested in Leominster in 2004 on drug and gun charges, including possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamines. Records from Worcester Superior Court show he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. He completed five years of probation in 2011.
His pastor, Gary Moritz, of the Twin City Baptist Church in Lunenberg, said he attended services there three times a week.
"He loved America, he loved the Lord and he was very humble and quiet and meek," Moritz said.
Broomfield told Moritz he wanted to travel to Turkey, but Moritz didn't know the purpose of his trip. Moritz said Broomfield talked about "giving his life over to serve the Lord."
Associated Press writer Collin Binkley contributed to this report.