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Sergeant in Shooting Reportedly Had Psychiatric Woes

October 29, 1995|DANA PRIEST and AVIS THOMAS-LESTER | THE WASHINGTON POST

The Army sergeant accused of firing into a field full of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers exercising at Ft. Bragg, N.C., had experienced psychiatric problems in the past, military and government sources said Saturday.

Army Sgt. William J. Kreutzer, 26, who is from Clinton, Md., had become hostile recently and had been seen previously by military psychiatrists, the sources said.

Army officials at Ft. Bragg, citing regulations, released no details Saturday that cast light on possible motives or background. Kreutzer has not been charged, but Army rules allow suspects to be detained for some time before being formally accused of a crime.

One of his former teachers at Surrattsville High School, who did not wish to be named, described him as "a wonderful, young, top student." Kreutzer was a member of the National Honor Society.

But a number of Army soldiers who had served with him described him Saturday as "a loner" and "someone who kept to himself."

Kreutzer joined the Army in 1992 and was scheduled to be discharged in January. He had served as an international peacekeeper in the Sinai Peninsula and had been awarded seven routine medals and awards, including the Good Conduct Medal.

On Friday, Army officials say, Kreutzer opened fire on a field full of colleagues from the elite 82nd Airborne Division of paratroopers who were beginning their daily dawn exercise routine.

Firing from a wooded area above Towle Stadium, the gunman killed an intelligence officer, Maj. Stephen M. Badger, and wounded 18 other soldiers. One of them is listed in serious condition but the rest were in good shape Saturday.

Kreutzer was disarmed and captured moments after the attack by Army Special Forces troopers.

"My heart goes out to the person because he was obviously distraught," said Diane Badger, the victim's wife. "What drives a man to do that, to turn on his fellow man? I don't know. . . . I can only have compassion for him and hope he gets the help he needs.

"It's hard to imagine life without my best friend," she said. "He was kind and gentle and loving and compassionate."

Army officials, meanwhile, confirmed that 25 to 30 rounds of ammunition, some of it military tracer bullets, were fired from two of the three weapons investigators recovered at the scene. They said Kreutzer would have had access to ammunition on the base because he was an infantry weapons squad leader.

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