California Soldier’s Final Days
by Mark Emmons
Mercury News, March 25, 2012
He entered the Army as Hector Aguilar, a quiet and respectful young man from Gilroy who saw military service as a way to help improve his family’s life — especially for his beloved mother and little sister.
But when he killed himself on March 14, after taking the lives of the two people most important to him, he was a troubled Iraq War veteran known as Abel Gutierrez.
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As friends and family struggle to comprehend what could have triggered the horrific double murder-suicide, they are certain of only one thing. More than just his name had changed after two tours of duty in Iraq.
“He went there as one person and came out as a totally different one,” his uncle, Faustino Gutierrez, said.
In the weeks before the tragedy, Gutierrez, 27, who was serving in the Washington National Guard, frightened his mother, Martha Gutierrez, and uncle with disturbing behavior. It included showing his 11-year-old sister how to handle the many weapons he had in their small Gilroy apartment, awaking from terrible nightmares repeatedly muttering “(expletive) Taliban,” and talking openly of suicide.
What exactly happened in the war zone to a man everyone continued to call Hector even after he legally changed his name may never be understood.
Filed under: Resources Tagged: | Abel Gutierrez, Armed Forces, Army, Bay Area, Combat, Deployment, Fort Lewis, Ft. Lewis, Gilroy, Iraq, Military, Murder-suicide, PTSD, Stress, Suicide, Veterans, Veterans Affairs, War