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Chief: Army Didn’t Warn Us Of Disgruntled Soldier

Chief: Army Didn’t Warn Us Of Disgruntled Soldier

Brandon Barrett got into trouble after his tour in Afghanistan. His family wishes they, and the Army, could have helped. [Personal Photo]

The Salt Lake Tribune via YellowBrix

October 13, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said he had a conversation with Army investigators about “what could have happened and what should have happened” after the military learned that a distraught soldier, who had threatened violence, was headed for Utah.

Burbank confirmed Tuesday that his department received no warning from the Army that the soldier, who had recently returned home from the war in Afghanistan, was en route to Utah where he intended to “make a statement.”

The soldier’s family and members of his unit have said that Army investigators knew about Brandon Barrett’s threats and his intention to come to Utah up to a week before he engaged a Salt Lake City police officer in a firefight.

While noting that it is easy to criticize in retrospect and saying he didn’t want to point fingers, Burbank said that if his department had more information, it may have chosen to enlist the public, through the media, to watch for Barrett and could have prepared its officers for a potential conflict with the well-trained and battle-hardened sniper.

Barrett was wearing full body armor and carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he was confronted by officer Uppsen Downes outside the downtown Grand America Hotel on Aug. 27. Barrett was able to fire several shots at Downes, including one that struck the officer in the leg, before Downes returned fire, killing the soldier with a shot to the head.

Among the threats Barrett had made, according to a member of his unit: “It’s almost over — 36 hours from now, I’ll be dead. I’ve got one hell of an argument and about 1,000 rounds to prove my point.”

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Burbank said his department tries to share as much information as possible with colleagues in other jurisdictions when there is concern for public safety. Whether or not the Army could have prevented what happened on that Friday afternoon, had it followed the same protocol, was a matter of speculation, Burbank said.

A spokeswoman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord said the base’s Provost Marshal’s office issued a “Be On The Lookout” order for Barrett on Aug. 26 through the National Criminal Information Center, but said she was unaware if authorities in Utah were specifically informed. Maj. Jenny Willis said that Barrett “kept his threats fairly vague.”

Barrett had been arrested for driving under the influence just days after his return. And fellow soldiers say he was publicly reprimanded by his first sergeant, who threatened to take away his post-deployment leave.

Barrett left without permission, and when he arrived home in Arizona, his family said they didn’t know that he was absent without leave. His brother, Tucson police Detective Shane Barrett, has complained that the military failed to follow its own rules for handling missing soldiers when it failed to contact his family.

“The system failed this individual … who was not prepared” to deal with his transition from war, Burbank said. “He served his country and lost his life at the hands of a Salt Lake City police officer.”

Burbank again commended Downes’ actions but said it was unfortunate that the incident wasn’t prevented.


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  • Eagle_and_flag_max50

    36TR

    almost 4 years ago

    7620 Comments

    Bump USLawman!!

  • 2011_range_day_2-19-10_max50

    USLawman1983

    almost 4 years ago

    1572 Comments

    I hate to say this but we're gonna (if not already) see alot more of the same from PTSD sufferers. Over my years, we've had upticks in homicidal/suicidal acts from PTSD sufferers during and after Nam, Desert Storm, and now Iraq/Afgahnistan. I just pray the military gets pro-active on de-briefing our soldiers, they deserve and earned the best care.

  • 4398057_max50

    Rocky_Racoon

    almost 4 years ago

    230 Comments

    Wish they didn't just say Army. Army always gets a bad rap for stuff like this. More like his unit. Some units don't want their soldiers to seek help though PTSD and suicide prevention. Some guys just don't want to step in and prevent anything in the first place. There's so much dark humor that goes on they take vague threats with a grain of salt. In my unit, you would get a visit from the Chaplain and two MP's if you made a hint about causing anybody or yourself bodily harm.

  • Andrea_and_i_max50

    corylovesandrea

    almost 4 years ago

    6224 Comments

    Seeing as Suicide Prevention is in my lane with my job with the Army, I hope to clarify a few things. The suicide rate is indeed higher than in the past, but the only reason why it is becoming such a focus is because it has surpassed, albeit barely, the civilian suicide rate. The Army is attempting to focus on the issues at hand and have placed a huge emphasis upon Suicide Prevention, Substance Abuse and Soldier Readiness, but often what is happening is that with massive budget cuts, many services are being downsized because the Army has to pay for ammunition and equipment. This was indeed a sad situation and should have been avoided, but there were options. We have an abundance of suicide prevention resources here as well as Military OneSource.

  • Thinker_max50

    darsavmo

    almost 4 years ago

    11356 Comments

    Sad situation and hopefully some lessons will be learned...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BForJuvCor

    almost 4 years ago

    846 Comments

    Chalk one up for the military not taking proactive measures to ensure that this man could have gotten help. I agree the suicide rate is astronomical and the military needs to understand that these a brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and friends fighting the war not mindless heartless soldiers. Also on another note i thought the same thing CreekCop...

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    almost 4 years ago

    11194 Comments

    Wish he ( Barrett ) could have gotten some help with his trouble( s) beforehand. That having been said, he forged his own demise with the actions he took and choices he made, and lost his life because of them. Glad no one else was killed and hope Officer Downes recovers quickly and fully.

  • My_kids_027_max50

    grant319

    almost 4 years ago

    1208 Comments

    Top_Cat said it pretty well you can point fingers at everyone else, but the simple fact is this guy shot at officers by choice and died for doing so.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    almost 4 years ago

    19382 Comments

    Thank Goodness it was not a public massacre.

  • Bike2008-22_max50

    Tbones2469

    almost 4 years ago

    168 Comments

    Sad for all involved. The thought that it could have been prevented hurts us all. Just like an accident, if just one link in the chain was broken then this could have turned out better. Recover fsat brother and know that you did what had to be done. Prayers to all involved.

  • 70748_max50

    Stealth4387

    almost 4 years ago

    188 Comments

    The military needs to figure something out and start taking care of its own, especially after deployments. Suicides are at all time highs for the military. Thank God for Officer Downes! Barrett could have killed untold numbers of innocent people if not for the quick response by Officer Downes.

  • Silver_warrior_max50

    Beowulf_7

    almost 4 years ago

    730 Comments

    There have been different threads on how we deal with he job. . . .especially with those that have had their hand forced into taking a life. While I have been fortunate enough to not have been forced into that decision. . .I can only imagine that depending on the circumstances it can be a sobering experience under these circumstances. While from the information given, Officer Downes was justified in the decision. . . . .I just hope he doesn't beat himself up later on with the, ". . . could I have handled it any differently?" Tragic situation no matter how it's looked at. Would it have made any difference had Officer Downes known the "rest of the story" before the incident? I doubt it. From the information given, the point of no return was passed just as Barrett was leaving the base.

  • P1010076_max50

    Alexander_Ott

    almost 4 years ago

    572 Comments

    Thank God for Officer Downes. No telling how much havoc Barrett could've done.

  • Gas_mask_1_max50

    creekcop

    almost 4 years ago

    1056 Comments

    I'm happy that Officer Downes prevailed. It's sad that it had to come to that though. I feel like the military dropped the ball big time.

    On another note, are Downes' parents comedians? I feel sorry for his name as well.

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    almost 4 years ago

    5524 Comments

    A sad situation but thankfully Officer Downes was able to overcome Barrett's aggressive assault and take him out before he killed Downes or any other innocent people!

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