Bragg Soldier Who Killed Officer, Himself, Was Sent to Combat Despite Evidence of TBI, Suicidal Thoughts

Posts Shed Light on Shooter’s Mind-set

An hour before shooting spree, Specialist Ricky G. Elder posted portions of his military medical record online indicating he suffered serious head and psychiatric wounds from violent combat tour in Iraq

by Greg Barnes and John Ramsey

The Fayetteville Observer, July 2, 2012

Spc. Ricky G. Elder

About an hour before Fort Bragg Spc. Ricky G. Elder fatally shot his commander and then himself Thursday, he posted a chilling final message on Facebook:

“My mind in the past couple of years has folded on itself. I just went to the Dr. and they said I just tested positive for Dementia.”

The post is time stamped 2:29 p.m. June 28. Fort Bragg officials say that about 3:30 p.m. that day, the 27-year-old Elder fatally shot his commander, Lt. Col. Roy L. Tisdale, and then turned the gun on himself during a safety briefing at Fort Bragg.

Elder died Saturday at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. A third soldier, 22-year-old Spc. Michael E. Latham, suffered minor wounds. All three soldiers were members of the 525th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.

In the same Facebook post, Elder expresses bitterness at an impending court-martial on charges of stealing a toolkit.

“So one week before I was supposed to get out I was charged with these damn tools,” the post reads. “So instead of a ($)20,000 severance I get to loose all the benefits and everything I’ve worked so hard for.”

Elder was ejected from the Humvee, hit his head and suffered a concussion. A friend who was with him died in the explosion — Excerpt from Spc. Ricky G. Elder’s medical report

The post indicates that two other soldiers were much more involved in the case of the stolen toolkit.

Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum confirmed that others have been charged in the case, but he said that he did not have their names or ranks and that the officials who did were on leave for the holiday.

“We are aware of these postings and please remember, just because he posted something does not make it true,” McCollum said in an email.

A friend who served with Elder at Fort Benning, Ga., allowed a reporter to see Elder’s private Facebook page. The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he did so because he wants people to know what happened to Elder in war and because he questions Fort Bragg’s decision to allow him to deploy to Afghanistan knowing he suffered from mental health problems.

“I don’t want him to be portrayed as this rogue, cold killer,” the friend said.

The day of the shootings, Elder also posted medical records from 2007 that describe him being in an explosion while riding as a gunner in a Humvee in Iraq.

According to the records, Elder was ejected from the Humvee, hit his head and suffered a concussion. A friend who was with him died in the explosion.

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