Thursday, January 10, 2013

Soldier on soldier violence the scourge of Ft. Hood

Copperas Cove – When Mrs. Frank Schreiber heard the two shotgun blasts, she panicked, grabbed a phone, and rushed from her bedroom, only to see her husband on the floor, fatally shot.

She fled, and the gunman plugged her with a shot to her hand and her shoulder.

And then, the two robbers fled, retreating back into the darkness of the nightmare whence they came.

Earlier, she and her husband had returned from visiting a friend and got ready for bed. Just before drifting off to sleep, someone began to knock on the door – and didn't go away. She told her husband to go see about the late night visitor.
Uniform crime statistics for Killeen show only two categories
 - larceny and auto theft - which do not exceed the Texas rate 

Mr. Schreiber, a soldier stationed at Ft. Hood, knew one of his attackers. Brandon Walker, a fellow soldier, had helped him repair his home; he had also spent time in the home with he and his wife. Ultimately, a disagreement about Walker's affections for a married woman caused a falling out, according to court testimony. The couple no longer kept company with the soldier.

Walker was low on cash. He needed money. On the evening of January 14, 2010, Walker picked up an acquaintance from his unit at the fort.

Travis Brazil and he had previously discussed raiding the Schreiber home to rob the couple of their guns and a coveted 42-inch flat screen television.

Schreiber had mentioned he would like to sell a certain pistol he owned. On the way, Walker and Brazil went by another soldier's home to borrow a shotgun.

The pair drove by the house to determine that the Schreibers were at home, then headed for a local Wal-Mart where surveillance cameras made video and still photos of both men as Walker withdrew $300 in cash which he intended to flash at Schreiber as he faked his way into the man's home to see about buying the gun.

Schreiber told him he no longer had the gun. He had sold it for a mere $40.

That's when Walker set the plan in motion. He asked to use the bathroom. Once inside, alone in the john, he phoned Brazil, who was waiting in the car with the shotgun. It was the signal that it was time for him to come through the front door, which he had left open.

All the while, Walker continued to talk to Mr. Schreiber to keep him distracted.

Brazil shot Mr. Schreiber twice, left him for dead, and when Mrs. Schreiber confronted the pair, they fled after Brazil wounded her with two additional blasts from the gun.

Walker told investigators all these things in exchange for the promise of a reduced sentence if he would give witness statements and testify against the trigger man, Brazil, who was subsequently convicted by a Coryell County jury for capital murder and automatically sentenced to life in the penitentiary.

The conviction will stand.

The Tenth District Court of Appeals at Waco recently turned down Brazil's appeal when Associate Justice Rex Davis ruled that witness testimony and the video pictures of Brazil, as well as his own admissions given in statements to investigators, was by established legal precedent adequate identification for jurors to convict him of shooting the Schreibers in a robbery carried out by home invasion.

Soldier on soldier violence – often compelled by a need for quick cash with which to score drugs – is a growing problem at the nation's military installations, where incidents such as the mass shooting of 13 murder victims by Army psychiatrist Abdul Nidal Hasan and the threatened jihadist antipersonal bombing designs of Jason Abdo are in stark contrast to the plain, vanilla robbery, rape, and assault intentions of soldiers motivated by the more mundane desire to relieve a fellow soldier of his possessions, cash, GI life insurance death benefits – or in the case of rape victims, their simple human dignity.

There are profound reasons for that. In the next installment of this series, a retired Command Sergeant Major who has turned his professional attentions to work as a bond agent and bounty hunter gives a candid and stark interview about conditions that are screwing up his Army.

Once in charge of an estimated 1,200 soldiers as the right hand enlisted man serving the Commanding Major General, he holds forth on the trends he has seen make the integrity and morale of a once proud fighting force take a nose dive into depravity.

Quite simply, his Army has turned into a nightmarish caricature of itself due to drugs - both prescription and illicit - and the effects of an extended war on two fronts.

It's a world in which soldiers have endured as many as 5 deployments during a single career punctuated by the drab and disheartening prospect of returning to the world and living a life at a stateside post where anything goes. (click here for a previous report about a murder for hire conspiracy that ended in the conviction for capital murder of three co-conspirators)


It's also a world where the civil authorities lie in wait to file serious charges against soldiers for even the most picayunish of offenses, charges which usually predicate a bad paper discharge and a life marred by an inability to break free of the cycle of criminal complications that usually go with that devastating event.

NEXT: 'Our military is broken...'

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