Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

PTSD Tragedy in Sante Fe: Veteran Diego Gonzales wanted help

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 30, 2010

27-year-old veteran suffering PTSD may have fired fatal bullet himself

Diego Gonzales wanted help.

It didn’t come in time for the 27-year-old Pecos High School graduate, who was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after two tours of duty in Iraq and another in Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine Corps sniper. He died late Tuesday in a shootout with police on Interstate 25 south of Santa Fe.

It’s still unclear whether the fatal shot came from state police or from Gonzales’ own gun. That won’t be determined until an autopsy is completed by the state Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque.

“He was owning up to the fact that he had problems he knew he had to fix to be the best dad he could be,” said Lawrence Lujan, a childhood friend who spoke on behalf of the Gonzales family. “He did his thing in Iraq, served this country, and did so honorably. God only knows what he saw. But he was affected deeply, and he was seeking treatment for PTSD.”

According to New Mexico State Police and Gonzales family accounts, after an argument about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, Gonzales took his 26-year-old wife, Ashley Varela-Gonzales, who is nine months’ pregnant with the couple’s second child, and their 2-year-old son, Diego Jr., from a home in Pecos.

State Police Officer Bryan Waller, who has been with the department for two and a half years, responded to what was called in as a kidnapping. Waller tried pulling over Gonzales’ large, black Ford F-350 pickup as it headed down Interstate 25 toward Albuquerque, where Gonzales worked for the Transportation Security Administration at the Albuquerque International Sunport.

Gonzales pulled over at the southbound Cerrillos Road exit.

“That is when he stopped his truck and began firing at one of our officers with a pistol,” Lt. Eric Garcia said. “Our officer returned fire with his duty weapon (an AR-15 rifle). Both vehicles were hit, and it is unclear whether (Gonzales) was hit in the exchange before he turned his gun on himself.”

Garcia said after the gunfire stopped, Varela-Gonzales ran from the truck and said her husband had shot himself.

Please read the entire story here at the Sante Fe New Mexican


One Response to “PTSD Tragedy in Sante Fe: Veteran Diego Gonzales wanted help”

  1. Brian Kious said

    Diego was a great Marine and a loving father. He was a true professional at work and always upbeat. He will be missed by those who loved him.

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