SAN ANTONIO — In a story Jan. 16 about a shooting last year at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Air Force investigators determined post-traumatic stress disorder and an unraveling military career led an airman to fatally shoot his commander. PTSD and the airman's military career were cited in an investigation by the San Antonio Express-News that used military records and other material provided by the airman's family, but the Air Force's investigation is ongoing.
SAN ANTONIO — An airman who fatally shot his commander before shooting himself at a San Antonio Air Force base last year had shown symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and his distinguished military career seemed to be unraveling, according to a newspaper's review of military records and other documents.
The April shooting at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland prompted officials to lock down the facility and abruptly end a nearby military training parade with thousands of spectators.
The Air Force's investigation into the shooting continues. But the San Antonio Express-News used military records, Tech. Sgt. Steven Bellino's psychiatric evaluation, audio recordings and other documents provided by his family to piece together what may have led up to the deaths.
The information included a two-page unsigned note typed eight months before the shooting. The Air Force described it as a suicide note, which Bellino's family disputes.
The newspaper reports that military investigators say Bellino confronted Lt. Col. William Schroeder in an office before the two struggled, and Schroeder was shot multiple times. The men, both veterans of the U.S. Special Operations Command, were in the Air Force's elite Battlefield Airmen program at Lackland, where Bellino trained in a tough pararescue program the summer before.
Bellino, 41, seemed to resent the outcome of the pararescue program following a military career that included repeated tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and time as an Army Ranger and Green Beret, according to the newspaper. He also had served as an FBI agent and was a CIA contractor before enlisting in the Air Force and attempting to join the elite unit.
Friends said Bellino was idealistic and a man of exacting fairness, according to the newspaper. He lived up to the letter of the law and expected it of others, even once accusing a sergeant major of lying in front of a roomful of soldiers. But a series of perceived slights and violations of his sense of honor had accumulated long before he arrived at Lackland, the newspaper reported.
"I do not like this world, and I do not want to be a part of it any longer," Bellino wrote in the disputed note in August 2015, the month he quit the pararescue program and then went home to Ohio and was charged with being absent without leave. "I've searched for many years to find a home consistent with my ethics and such a place does not exist."
His comments came in a note that investigators found in a flash drive and say were written about the time Bellino's PTSD symptoms appeared to intensify. Bellino's family said an expert they hired said it was "highly unlikely" Bellino wrote the note.