Brandon Barrett, Soldier Who Planned Utah Massacre, Sane During War, Crazy in Peace

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The Army has issued its final report on the mental state of Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker soldier Brandon Barrett, who, in full body armor, planned to shoot up Salt Lake City last year but was killed by a police officer: He was sane while killing the enemy in Afghanistan but, for reasons unknown, went crazy afterward, plotting to kill Americans on the homefront.

It's a bit baffling to the family of Barrett, who was subject of a Seattle Weekly cover story in April.

"It means more of the same answers from the Army for us," says Barrett's brother, Shane Barrett, a Tucson police detective. "We were under the impression that this final report would indicate whether or not Brandon was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but there is no mention of PTSD in the report."

With a semi-automatic rifle, 21 magazines of ammo, a scope and a bipod rifle mount, Barrett, 28, was headed to the top of the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City Aug. 27, 2010, when he was sidetracked by a hotel security officer and then killed in a shootout with a city police officer. He had earlier sent text messages to buddies indicting he was planning to stage a massacre from the rooftop.

Essentially, the Army found that his actions that day were the result of his deteriorating condition at home and not the result of war on his mental state, even though Barrett's Stryker unit saw some of the worst combat in Afghanistan. Says the Army report:

Spc. Barrett's death [was] "not in the line of duty - not due to own misconduct" because he was "mentally sound" at the time he went AWOL, but "mentally unsound" at the time he committed the offense in Salt Lake City.

"For my parents, that was disappointing," says Shane Barrett. "I think they would have better closure if Brandon had been diagnosed with PTSD, not that PTSD is an excuse for what he did."

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Spc. Barrett
The Army appears to be taking no responsibility despite its mistakes that led to Barrett going AWOL and then failing to notify his family or authorities when he appeared to have gone over the edge after being ridiculed by an officer in front of his unit.

Barrett says his father, a Marine Corps Vet, "believes that incident was what flipped the switch in Brandon." His mother feels that the Army belatedly labeled Brandon a deserter only after he sent the threatening text messages "because it would look bad for the Army otherwise."

In his view, says the detective, "after reading Brandon's post-deployment medical questionnaire and reading some of his answers, I am shocked that he wasn't looked at closer" and placed on leave.

"The other issue I have is the lost opportunity to help Brandon while he was home for that month he was AWOL. Had the Army followed through with their procedures and sent a letter to my parents, we could have tried to help Brandon.

"Not having the opportunity to try and help my Brother is what haunts me. Whether it would have helped or not, we will never know, but at least I would have closure knowing that I tried."

 
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