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Accused Bragg shooter said he had dementia

Jul. 14, 2012 - 11:10AM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 14, 2012 - 11:10AM  |  
Spc. Ricky Elder reportedly shot his battaltion commander, Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, and then turned the gun on himself at Fort Bragg, N.C., on June 28.
Spc. Ricky Elder reportedly shot his battaltion commander, Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, and then turned the gun on himself at Fort Bragg, N.C., on June 28. (Army)
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The soldier accused of shooting and killing his battalion commander on Fort Bragg, N.C., faced legal trouble at home and in the Army, according to news reports.

He wrote of his troubles on Facebook, saying he had been diagnosed with dementia.

Spc. Ricky G. Elder, 27, died June 29 of self-inflicted injuries, a day after the shooting of Lt. Col. Roy L. Tisdale.

Tisdale, 42, of Alvin, Texas, was commander of the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade's special troops battalion.

The shooting happened about 3:30 p.m. June 28, during a safety briefing near the unit's headquarters.

Tisdale was killed immediately and Elder, whom the Army didn't publicly identify until July 1, reportedly turned the weapon on himself.

A third soldier, who sustained minor injuries during the incident, has been identified as Spc. Michael E. Latham, a signal support system specialist. Latham, 22, was treated and released from Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center, the Army said June 29.

Elder, an infantryman, died after being treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C.

He was recently charged with larceny of a tool kit valued at $1,700 and was pending court-martial. Charges against Elder had been referred, but his trial had not been scheduled.

Meanwhile, Elder also was facing legal troubles in his hometown of Hutchinson, Kan., at the time of his death, The Associated Press reported.

Elder had been scheduled to appear before a Reno County district judge to be sentenced for aggravated battery stemming from a 2010 incident in which a woman was punched in the face at a local sports bar.

Elder pleaded guilty to reckless aggravated battery in November 2011, and his sentencing had been postponed once already because of his military service, according to AP.

Army Criminal Investigation Command continues to investigate the shooting, Fort Bragg spokesman Ben Abel said July 3.

"We are waiting for the results of that investigation," he wrote in an email to Army Times. "However, due to the outcome of the incident, we may never have a full explanation as to why this happened."

About an hour before the shooting, Elder posted a final message on Facebook, The Fayetteville Observer reported.

"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," Elder wrote, according to the newspaper.

In the same Facebook post, Elder expressed bitterness at the impending court-martial relating to the tool kit and concerns about losing his benefits and "everything I've worked so hard for," the Fayetteville newspaper reported.

Elder also posted on Facebook medical records from 2007 that describe him being ejected from his Humvee after an explosion. Elder, who was the truck's gunner, hit his head and suffered a concussion, according to The Fayetteville Observer.

Elder enlisted in the Army in 2004 and was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Richardson, Alaska, and 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Benning, Ga., before being assigned to the 525th in June 2010.

He deployed to Iraq from October 2006 to November 2007 and to Afghanistan from September 2010 to July 2011.

Victim and command change

Tisdale was a 1993 graduate of Texas A&M University and was commissioned as an infantry officer. He took command of the 525th Brigade Special Troops Battalion in January, when the battalion was activated.

His previous assignments include 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Brigade, and 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Brigade, at Fort Benning; 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.; and 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, and the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.

Maj. Maria Chamorro is serving as acting commander of the 525th Brigade Special Troops Battalion while the brigade works to assign a new commander, Abel said.

A memorial service for Tisdale, organized by the unit, was held Wednesday, Abel said.

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