By Matthew D. LaPlante, Sheena McFarland and Lindsay Whitehurst
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated Aug 28, 2010 07:11PM
He was dressed for war. And he died in a hail of gunfire. But the battlefield upon which Brandon S. Barrett waged his final fight was not in a distant, dangerous place, but rather, it would appear, in his own mind.
In a situation that has become disturbingly frequent across the United States, an armed soldier squared off against a police officer in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon. Barrett, a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran recently home from Afghanistan, was in full battle dress, armed with an assault rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition. It took four minutes from the moment that a frightened witness called 911 to the time that Barrett’s bloodied body lay on a small patch of grass behind the opulent Grand America Hotel. The soldier was dead. A police officer wounded.
And the fog of war was thick.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Terry Schow, director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, who has tirelessly fought for greater mental health services for those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is so troubling, on so many levels, I cannot even begin to say.”And yet, Schow said, the officer may have had little choice in his response. “We understand that officer, and public safety is so very important,” he said.
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