Skip to comments.Bank president fights for soldier after robbery (Master Sergeant turns himself in)
Posted on 06/14/2004 3:15:08 PM PDT by Libloather
Bank president fights for soldier after robbery
Published Monday, June 14, 2004
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - Seven hours from his Army post and thousands of miles from the Iraq war he left behind, Master Sgt. Kenneth Schweitzer confessed to walking into an Iowa bank, firing shots into the ceiling and walking out with a bag of cash.
He drove straight to a police station and turned himself in, saying he didnt need the money, he just wanted to live in an 8-by-8-foot cell, authorities said.
The case has baffled police and acquaintances of Schweitzer, a 38-year-old father and decorated soldier who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. He told police his war experience was not related to the robbery, but some say there must be a connection.
Schweitzer apparently knew no one in Keokuk, Iowa, a town of 11,000, before he walked into the Keokuk Savings Bank and demanded money. He found compassion from an unlikely source - the president of the bank.
To Ed Johnstone, a Navy veteran and the banks president, one thing is clear: Schweitzer needed help. Johnstone asked the local prosecutor to transfer the case to military courts, where he believes Schweitzer could get the best counseling.
"Having served in the military as a young man, I understand the pressures people are under," he said. "I have great empathy for his feelings and what he was trying to deal with."
Prosecutor Michael Short agreed to transfer the case to Army courts because he agreed that they were best equipped to handle it.
"It was an extremely unusual case," Short said.
Schweitzer, who has been in the Army 18 years, is now in a confinement center at Fort Knox where the Army says he is receiving help.
Lt. Col. Trey Cate, a public affairs officer for the 101st, said Schweitzers attorney would not comment.
The 101st Airborne Division is a rapid-deployment unit trained to go anywhere in the world in 36 hours. It is based at Fort Campbell on the Tennessee border, 480 miles from Keokuk.
Is it just me, or this an inside joke?
Gawd, what bullshit.
When units return from overseas, everybody does a 10-page, offensively intrusive psychiatric questionnaire, and has a (usually brief) interview with a mental health worker.
Posters are everywhere...
This guy had opportunites to seek help, if help is what he was seeking; going into a bank with a gun is no way to seek help, and it put all kinds of people at unreasonable risk. IT WAS A CRIME, and if he's a sick puppy, well one characteristic of criminals is that they're not what you'd call well-adjusted to.
And... I bet his job in the 101st turns out to be running the field laundry or something... just watch.
Criminal Number 18F
From what I understand, no, it's not a joke. There are folks who've been there, done that, and they can help. They are vet organizations and active duty help resources. he's got a lot better chance in the "tender mercies" of the service than he does counting on the civilian court system.
Think about it.
The robbery sounded like a fishy stunt to me and I was thinking, He should be turned back over to the military code. Yeah, I think it will be a bit harsher, too, than the touchy-feely-what-is-really-wrong attitude in the civilian world.
I remember , when I was in the army, This guy Johnnie Ray Graves. Nicest guy in the world. Good soldier. one day he borrows my suit case and a few days later he's in sandiego telling some navy doctor he wants to be a piece of lint.Sometimes the lid blows off the pressure cooker. I do recall drinking rather heavily to deal with the pressure. Or maybe I don't remember......
Granted that this guy had opportunities to seek help within the system but, even though the story seems strange, it is plausible.
Let's examine some facts. Realistically, the service is NOT supportive of members who actually seek help for what might be considered mental or emotional problems. An 18 year veteran of the Army and a Master Sgt. knows that his career is toast if he admits something is wrong.
Also, there is the potential for delayed post-traumatic stress syndrome that didn't kick in until AFTER all of the evaluations and assessments were completed. Without knowing more of what's going on, I'm inclined to be more compassionate and give the guy some slack. If he really imploded, crime or no crime, jail isn't going to help him resolve the problem - counseling will.
But, I want to see more evidence of what is actually going on with him before I agree that he should walk on that charge. This could have been a practice run.
Not if he's insane. He also said it had nothing to do with the war. People are not allowed to testify as to whether or not they are sane at sanity hearings.
*18 years in and an E6.*
E1 PVT Private
E2 PV2 Private 2
E3 PFC Private First Class
E4 SPC/CPL Specialist (Not an NCO)/ Corporal (NCO)
E5 SGT Sergeant
E6 SSG Staff Sergeant
E7 SFC (Platoon Sergeant) Sergeant First Class
E8 MSG/(1SG by position) Master Sergeant/First Sergeant
E9 SGM/(CSM by position) Sergeant Major/Command Sergeant Major
...That error might have been a premonition. Would they bust him to E6, or more stripes taken, depending on the outcome of this? I thought it interesting. Lepton,,,?
Well, roll on the cell, then. The guy's a felon, he admits it, why are we dragging the trial out? Everybody is trying to fall all over themselves to be kind to the criminal in this case, just cause he is in the Army. I say, no excuse, he's still a criminal, and the entire book should be thrown at him just like any other criminal.
Is running a field laundry somehow offensive to you?
Only when the guy later shows up claiming to be traumatized. Every guy I've ever met who's been "traumatized" to the point of dysfunction, or "suffering from PTSD" has turned out to be either a rear-echelon desk jockey whose trauma must have been the day the AC failed, or a complete wannabee with zero days of service, who still is believed by credulous people who were weaned on TV.
Criminal Number 18F
Unless there is credible evidence that he was mentally not responsible for his actions (same standard in military law as in most states), then he will be convicted. Most likely sentence is a period of confinement. He will be reduced to the lowest enlisted grade (E1) and probably will receive a Bad Conduct or Dishonorable Discharge.
He is more likely to have gotten sympathy from a civilian jury than a military one. As some have said, we don't have all the details; it is possible he is so mentally ill he didn't understand that what he was doing is wrong, in which case he will most likely be medically retired and involuntarily committed to inpatient medical treatment. (He could be out very quickly, if, for instance, he is psychotic but responds well to medication. We just don't know).
The malaria med thing is pretty farfetched; however, it does produce nightmares and irregular sleep cycles in almost everyone who takes it. Could there be an occasional person whose waking thoughts are also disturbed? I wouldn't rule it out but I sure wouldn't want that theory to be the only thing standing between me and a jail sentence; there's no scientific support for it at this time.
Worth noting that aviators are not given Lariam. They are given Doxyxcycline -- if they take Lariam they are grounded because of the potential for psychological side effects. But Doxy costs a lot more, and it's a lot tougher to administer in the field. But if the troops took no malaria medication, many would have fallen ill and quite a few died from the disease.
Criminal Number 18F
Dear John letter?
I was sharing a far perimeter position with a short-boots from the Vietnam era during a Reforger excercise. A jeep containing the Brigade Commander comes over a nearby hill when this guy started shaking. "It's Charlie man!", he says while plugging a fully-loaded 30-round magazine into his rifle.
While I'm running all this through my sleep-deprived brain he started low-crawling down the hill as fast as he could toward the jeep like a demented beetle. I had to quickly decide if he was jerking my chain or had really flipped out. He got about halfway down there and was setting up for his shot before I was on him.
Never underestimate older people. Fortunately the jeep passed over the next hill while I was getting thrashed, but a lucky hold and 10 more minutes found the guy regaining his senses and wondering what was going on.
There was no way I was going to ruin this guy when he was set to retire in two weeks with an excellent record, so I've never said anything about this for 22 years. Up to that point he was the epitome of civilized military professionalism. He got out without any further problem and got his earned honorary discharge and retirement. As far as I know he's endangered no one since. Right or wrong call?
The bank manager may be wrong but I certainly understand his sympathy. Military personnel who commit civilian crimes are subject to double indemnity, as they are beholden to punishment above and beyond military justice immediately upon release from military punishment. The bank manager may want to see the guy living his remaining feeble years in freedom before he dies.
This is accurate. After my husband returned from Iraq, he would tell me with amusement of the supply clerks and paper pushers that were so traumatized by having been sent to "combat." These guys never got anywhere near close to actual combat. But hubby and his infantry company would get mortared, shot at, and almost blown up on a daily basis, and none of them are maladjusted for it.