PDA

View Full Version : Sgt., brother dead after police chase



thedrifter
05-15-08, 10:14 AM
Sgt., brother dead after police chase
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday May 15, 2008 8:21:58 EDT

STANFIELD, Ariz. — A Marine sergeant and his brother who led law enforcement agents on a lengthy pursuit on Interstate 8 Wednesday morning were found dead after their car was disabled, and authorities said it appeared to be a murder-suicide.

The men had been sought since they reportedly carjacked a couple and took their white Dodge sedan at the Grand Canyon on Monday night, said Pinal County Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Minter. The men had crashed their own car several hours earlier but walked away carrying backpacks.

Minter said officers approaching the white Dodge Caliber after it was disabled by spike strips heard gunshots and later confirmed both died of bullet wounds. No officers fired or were hurt.

“It appears one man in the vehicle shot the other guy and then turned the weapon on himself,” Minter said.

Minter said the men were identified as Travis N. “T-Bo” Twiggs, 36, and Willard J. “Will” Twiggs, 38. Travis Twiggs was recently based at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, said national park spokeswoman Shannan Marcak. He had reportedly served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday’s incident began when the men were stopped at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Welton in southwestern Arizona. Minter said agents became suspicious and ordered the men to pull over for additional inspection, but they took off.

Border Patrol agents gave chase, joined by officers and deputies from several state, county and Indian tribal police agencies during the 130-mile pursuit. An officer with the Tohono O’odham Nation police deployed spike strips near Stanfield, about 40 miles south of Phoenix, flattening the tires on the Dodge.

The driver kept going for about a mile before the car veered off the interstate and hit a small tree.

After shots were heard, officers backed off until agents in helicopters determined both men appeared to be dead.

Federal officials said it is possible the men were trying to commit suicide during the initial accident.

Ellie

thedrifter
05-16-08, 05:59 AM
Marine who died after police chase had PTSD
By Arthur H. Rotstein - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday May 15, 2008 20:52:12 EDT

TUCSON, Ariz. — A decorated Marine Corps staff sergeant who apparently fatally shot his brother before killing himself at the end of a long police chase had served multiple tours in Iraq and had written about coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pinal County Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Minter said no motive has been established for why Travis N. “T-Bo” Twiggs, 36, killed his 38-year-old brother Willard J. “Will” Twiggs and then himself on Wednesday.

Nor is it known why both brothers earlier in the week may have tried to commit suicide by attempting to drive their car into the Grand Canyon.

Reached at home in Louisiana Thursday, the father of both men declined to talk to a reporter, and their stepmother did not return a phone call.

Travis Twiggs’ wife, Kellee, told KNXV-TV in Phoenix that her husband was on various medications and couldn’t sleep at times.

“He was a really good person, and a great Marine,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Travis Twiggs, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993, wrote a lengthy article in the January issue of the Marine Corps Gazette detailing his efforts to deal with PTSD.

Twiggs served three tours of combat duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and held the combat action ribbon. He wrote that he “began to notice ‘changes’ in myself” after returning from his second duty tour. Those changes included being “more irritable, paranoid for no reason, unable to sleep” and having trouble focusing when he was around other people, he said.

His symptoms disappeared when he decided to return for a third tour, but recurred on coming back home again — which is when a sergeant major recognized that he was suffering from PTSD. Twiggs described subsequent treatment with medications and his efforts to circumvent them, including his use of alcohol.

The symptoms disappeared yet again when he returned to Iraq for his fourth tour, he wrote, but worsened when he came home again. “All of my symptoms were back, and now I was in the process of destroying my family,” he wrote.

He described going through hospital detoxification, experiencing psychosis in a locked ward and a stay in a PTSD program at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“My only regrets are how I let my command down after they had put so much trust in me and how I let my family down by pushing them away,” he wrote.

Twiggs urged others suffering from similar problems to seek assistance and offered to help “anyone in need” himself.

Most recently, Twiggs was assigned to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory at Quantico, Va., but he wrote that what had helped in his recovery was assignment to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence.

A spokesman at Quantico, 1st Lt. Brian Donnelly, said the corps is committed to providing full medical, psychological and social support to anyone with a combat-related injury, including PTSD, through organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Regiment and local deployment health clinics.

“Our leaders are trained to be alert for signs of PTSD in their Marines and to provide a supportive climate in which Marines can feel comfortable seeking help.”

Travis Twiggs had been absent without leave since May 5.

On Wednesday, Twiggs and his brother led law enforcement agents on a chase across more than 80 miles of Interstate 8 after speeding away from a Border Patrol checkpoint in southwestern Arizona.

They triggered the chase by failing to pull into a secondary inspection area when their behavior aroused agents’ suspicions, Border Patrol spokesman Michael Bernacke said.

After officers with the Tohono O’odham Police Department placed spike strips on the interstate, the car continued for about a mile. Law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents heard two shots as they approached the disabled car, and after several moments moved into position and found both men slumped forward and dead.

The Twiggs had been sought since a carjacking Monday night within Grand Canyon National Park. They were in the carjacked vehicle when they died.

They are believed to have crashed their car at the canyon’s edge and then walked away from the scene hours before a Florida couple had their car stolen at gunpoint. They declined offers of help, walking off with large backpacks, witnesses told park rangers.

Park spokeswoman Shannan Marcak said that based on the car’s position, investigators believe the men may have tried to drive off the road and into the canyon. The car was hung up on a tree that kept it from going over the edge, they said.

Ellie

thedrifter
05-17-08, 07:20 AM
Man who killed self, brother had stress disorder, wife says
by Astrid Galvan - May. 16, 2008 11:52 AM
The Arizona Republic

The man suspected of killing his brother then turning the gun on himself after a 130-mile vehicle pursuit Wednesday on Interstate 8 was a U.S. Marine who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, his wife said.

Sgt. Travis N. Twiggs, 36, had served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kellee Twiggs, his wife of almost nine years, said he was a great man, father and husband
who proudly served his country.

The couple, who were next door neighbors in New Orleans since they were 8- and 5-years-old, had two daughters.

Their youngest, 4-year-old America, was named after his cause.

"He was one hell of a Marine," said Kellee, who said she last talked to her husband two weeks ago.

She said Twiggs was placed on several different medications after he developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

"That's not what he needed," she said. "He needed help."

Lt. Brian P. Donnelly, a spokesman at base at Quantico, Va., where Twiggs was stationed, said the Marine Corps is committed to providing full medical, psychological and social support to soldiers with combat-related injuries.

"Our leaders are trained to be alert for signs of PTSD in their Marines and to provide a supportive climate in which Marines can feel comfortable seeking help," he said.

"This incident is highly regrettable, and our thoughts are with Staff Sgt. Twiggs' family as they attempt to deal with this tragic event."

A recent report by the Washington Post revealed that almost 20 percent of troops who return from Iraq and Afghanistan reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

Only about half of those sought treatment, according to the report.

Twiggs wrote about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder in "PTSD: The War Within," which was published in the January issue of Marine Corps Gazette.

He said he began to notice changes in himself after returning from his second tour. He was irritable, paranoid and couldn't sleep, he wrote.

On his third tour, two Marine comrades were killed. From then on, his life spiraled downward, he wrote.

Still, he went back for a fourth and final tour.

"When I arrived back in the States, it was as though I had never left," he wrote. "All my symptoms were back, and now I was in the process of destroying my family."

Kellee, who lives in Stafford, Va., said the marriage suffered and almost ended in divorce, but in the past few months they were working to save it.

He was twice admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

When Kellee last spoke to her husband two weeks ago, he told her he was driving to Louisiana to visit his grandparents.

But somehow he ended up in Arizona with his brother, 38-year-old Willard "Will" Twiggs.

The brothers were suspects in a Monday carjacking at the Grand Canyon and were involved in a vehicle pursuit Wednesday involving four agencies that ended in an apparent murder-suicide.

Kellee said she only had good things to say about the man she knew most of her life.

"He was just such a wonderful man and he could make you laugh," she said.

Ellie

thedrifter
05-18-08, 09:05 AM
Marine who died after chase wrote of war stress

By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN, Associated Press Writer
Sun May 18, 1:27 AM ET

Last month, Marine Staff Sgt. Travis N. "T-Bo" Twiggs went to the White House with a group of Iraq war veterans called the Wounded Warriors Regiment and met the president.

Twiggs had been through four tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and months of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in which he said he was on up to 12 different medications.

"He said, `Sir, I've served over there many times, and I would serve for you any time,' and he grabbed the president and gave him a big hug," said Kellee Twiggs, his widow.

About two weeks later, Travis Twiggs went absent without leave from his job in Quantico, Va.

He and his brother drove to the Grand Canyon, where their car was found hanging in a tree in what appeared to be a failed attempt to drive into the chasm.

The brothers carjacked a vehicle at the park Monday. Two days later they were at a southwestern Arizona border checkpoint, and took off when they were asked to pull into a secondary inspection area, Border Patrol spokesman Michael Bernacke said.

Eighty miles later, the car was on the Tohono O'odham reservation, its tires wrecked by spike strips.

As tribal police and Border Patrol agents closed in, Twiggs, 36, apparently fatally shot his 38-year-old brother, Willard J. "Will" Twiggs, then killed himself.

Pinal County Sheriff's spokesman Mike Minter said no motive has been established. But Kellee Twiggs said the decorated Marine would still be alive if the military had given him enough help.

"All this violent behavior, him killing his brother, that was not my husband. If the PTSD would have been handled in a correct manner, none of this would have happened," she said in a telephone interview from Stafford, Va.

Travis Twiggs, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993 and held the combat action ribbon, wrote about his efforts to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder in the January issue of the Marine Corps Gazette.

The symptoms would disappear when he began each tour, he said, but came back stronger than ever when he came home.

He wrote that his life began to "spiral downward" after the tour in which two Marines from his platoon died.

"I cannot describe what a leader feels when he does not bring everyone home," he wrote. "To make matters even worse, I arrived at the welcome home site only to find that those two Marines' families were waiting to greet me as well. I remember thinking, 'Why are they here?'"

Weeks later, Twiggs "saw a physician's assistant who said that was the severest case of PTSD she'd seen in her life," his widow said.

He began receiving treatment, but the Marine wrote that he mixed his medications with alcohol and that his symptoms didn't go away until he started his final tour in Iraq.

When he came home, "All of my symptoms were back, and now I was in the process of destroying my family," he wrote. "My only regrets are how I let my command down after they had put so much trust in me and how I let my family down by pushing them away."

Kellee Twiggs said her husband was "very, very different, angry, agitated, isolated and so forth," upon his return. "He was just doing crazy things."

She said her husband was treated in the psychiatric ward of Bethesda Naval Medical Center and then sent to a Veterans Administration facility for four months.

Most recently, Travis Twiggs was assigned to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory at Quantico, a job he said helped him "get my life back on track."

"Every day is a better day now," he wrote in the Marine Corps Gazette. "...Looking back, I don't believe anyone is to blame for my craziness, but I do think we can do better."

Twiggs urged others suffering from similar problems to seek help. "PTSD is not a weakness. It is a normal reaction to a very violent situation," he wrote.

Kellee Twiggs said she can't understand why her husband was not sent to a specialized PTSD clinic in New Jersey.

"They let him out. He was OK for a while and then it all started over again," she said.

A spokesman at Quantico, 1st Lt. Brian Donnelly, said the Corps is committed to providing full medical, psychological and social support to anyone with a combat-related injury, including PTSD.

"Our leaders are trained to be alert for signs of PTSD in their Marines and to provide a supportive climate in which Marines can feel comfortable seeking help," Donnelly said.

One lingering mystery in Twiggs' case is his older brother. Kellee Twiggs said she thinks the Louisiana man joined her husband in driving west "because T-Bo was hurting so bad and for so long that Will's life was a little in chaos."

"For them to both drive off into the Grand Canyon, they both apparently wanted to end their lives," she said.

Kellee Twiggs said "something needs to be fixed" in treating soldiers coming home from combat with PTSD.

"These boys and girls coming back, they need help, things need to be changed, and they don't need to be made to feel weak for asking for help," she said.

Ellie

thedrifter
05-18-08, 09:34 AM
Marine's widow says Corps let him down
Iraq, Afghan vet kills brother, himself while fighting PTSD

By Arthur H. Rotstein
Associated Press
Sunday, May 18, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Last month, Marine Staff Sgt. Travis N. "T-Bo" Twiggs went to the White House with a group of Iraq war veterans called the Wounded Warriors Regiment and met President Bush.

Twiggs had been through four tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and months of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in which he said he was on up to 12 different medications.

"He said, 'Sir, I've served over there many times, and I would serve for you any time,' and he grabbed the president and gave him a big hug," said Kellee Twiggs, his widow.

About two weeks later, Travis Twiggs went AWOL from Quantico, Va.

He and his brother drove to the Grand Canyon, where their car was found hanging in a tree in what appeared to be a failed attempt to drive into the chasm.

The brothers carjacked a vehicle at the park Monday. Two days later they were at a southwestern Arizona border checkpoint, and took off when they were asked to pull into a secondary inspection area, Border Patrol spokesman Michael Bernacke said.

Eighty miles later, the car was on the Tohono O'odham reservation, its tires wrecked by spike strips.

As tribal police and Border Patrol agents closed in, Twiggs, 36, apparently fatally shot his 38-year-old brother, Willard J. "Will" Twiggs, then killed himself.

Pinal County Sheriff's spokesman Mike Minter said no motive has been established. But Kellee Twiggs said the decorated Marine would still be alive if the military had given him enough help.

"All this violent behavior, him killing his brother, that was not my husband. If the PTSD would have been handled in a correct manner, none of this would have happened," she said in a telephone interview from Stafford, Va.

Travis Twiggs, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993 and held the combat action ribbon, wrote about his efforts to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder in the Marine Corps Gazette.

The symptoms would disappear when he began each tour, he said, but came back stronger than ever when he came home. He wrote that his life began to "spiral downward" after the tour in which two Marines from his platoon died.

"I cannot describe what a leader feels when he does not bring everyone home," he wrote. "To make matters even worse, I arrived at the welcome home site only to find that those two Marines' families were waiting to greet me as well. I remember thinking, 'Why are they here?'"

Weeks later, Twiggs "saw a physician's assistant who said that was the severest case of PTSD she'd seen in her life," his widow said.

He began receiving treatment, but the Marine wrote that he mixed his medications with alcohol and that his symptoms didn't go away until he started his final tour in Iraq.

When he came home, "All of my symptoms were back, and now I was in the process of destroying my family," he wrote. "My only regrets are how I let my command down after they had put so much trust in me and how I let my family down by pushing them away."

Kellee Twiggs said her husband was "very, very different, angry, agitated, isolated and so forth," upon his return. "He was just doing crazy things."

She said her husband was treated in the psychiatric ward of Bethesda Naval Medical Center and then sent to a Veterans Administration facility for four months.

Kellee Twiggs said she can't understand why her husband was not sent to a specialized PTSD clinic in New Jersey.

Marines respond

1st Lt. Brian Donnelly, a spokesman at Quantico, said the Marine Corps is committed to providing full medical, psychological and social support to anyone with a combat-related injury, including PTSD.

"Our leaders are trained to be alert for signs of PTSD in their Marines and to provide a supportive climate in which Marines can feel comfortable seeking help," Donnelly said.

-- Associated Press

Ellie

thedrifter
05-19-08, 11:26 AM
Originally posted: May 19, 2008
In Memoriam: A Marine with PTSD
One of the first Marines to write openly about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder died last week in Arizona, in what appears to be a suicidal burst of violence. His story is a stark reminder of the toll the war in Iraq is taking on veterans.

Marine Staff Sgt. Travis Twiggs, 36, had done three tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. In April, he was among a group of vets who met with President Bush at the White House. Several weeks later, he left his job in Quantico, Va. without notice, the Associated Press reports.

Travis had been hospitalized for PTSD at Bethesda Naval Medical Center for several weeks and then sent to at a Veterans Administration facility for treatment, the AP says. In a January article in Marine Corps Gazette he described his despair, alcohol abuse and psychotic episodes, but he claimed to have recovered emotionally.

Earlier this month, Travis drove to the Grand Canyon with his brother, Willard Twiggs, where the brothers appear to have tried to drive their car off a cliff. (It was found hanging in a tree.) They then carjacked another vehicle, drove to the border in southwestern Arizona, and ultimately became involved in a car chase with authorities.

As officials closed in, Travis Twiggs apparently shot his brother and then himself last Wednesday.

"I think they probably had a pact," said Kellee Twiggs, the Marine’s widow, in an interview with a Virginia television station. "I don’t think my husband went out of his way maliciously to kill his brother."

Her husband never recovered from the deaths of two soldiers under his watch and the PTSD “just drove him crazy,” she said in the interview. “I think he felt like he failed. He failed his country, he failed his boys in Iraq, he failed the Marine Corps, and then he was slowly started to fail his family...”

It’s likely she’ll never find out what happened to her husband: if he’d planned this spasm of violence for some time or if he suffered some kind of emotional breakdown. The parents of the Twiggs brothers haven’t talked to the press and there’s no indication what Willard Twiggs’ motivation might have been.

Readers can find the article that Travis Twiggs published in Marine Corps Gazette here. We include some excerpts below:

"It was upon returning from my second trip that I began to notice changes in myself. By changes I mean I was more irritable, paranoid for no reason, unable to sleep, and had trouble focusing when around other people."

Soon Twiggs was planning a return to Iraq. As soon as Kellee agreed to his plan, "my symptoms went away. After all, I was going back to the fight, back to shared adversity, where the tempo is high and our adrenaline pulses through our veins like hot blood. It is in this place that there is no time for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

On that tour of duty, Twiggs lost two of his men. "I cannot describe what a leader feels when he does not bring every one. To make matters even worse, I arrived at the welcome home site only to find that those two Marines’ families were waiting to greet me as well."

Twiggs was transferred to Quantico. "My first day was painful. I couldn’t seem to function around others. The sergeant major sent me home and told me to be standing outside his door at 0700 the following morning. The next morning arrived, and the sergeant major told me to come into his office and take a seat. He asked me if I knew what PTSD was. He then told me that I had it bad and asked me if I knew how he knew this? I replied ’No, I don’t, and he responded that it was because he had it too."

Twiggs sees a physician's assistant and is prescribed two medications. "I was mixing the medications with alcohol every night."

Twiggs goes to Iraq again and then returns, once more with PTSD. "All of my symptoms were back and now I was in the process of destroying my family. …I did not understand what was happening to me. My situation worsened, if you can believe that. I started neglecting my work, and my answer for everything was alcohol."

He ends up at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in a locked ward. "I was not exactly a model patient. I was experiencing psychosis where I would fight my way through the hallways and clear rooms as if I were back in theater. The hospital police would have to be called in to secure me."

Twiggs is sent to a VA facility for four months. "At one point while I was at the VA, I was (on) up to 12 different medications a day. I saw several doctors throughout all of this, and it seemed that each one had a different medicine. I often wondered if they talked with each other….I was experiencing visual ad audible hallucinations that I firmly believe were a direct result of being overmedicated. On any given day, I was sad, mad or depressed, I often felt that I was weak and not worthy of calling myself a Marine anymore. I slept covered in sweat every night and constantly shook uncontrollably."

Twiggs completes the PTSD treatment program and stops taking most of the medications. He begins working for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. "Every day is a better day now. As my body and mind grow stronger….so does my spirit. I see everything so much differently now. Looking back, I don’t believe anyone is to blame for my craziness, but I do think we can do better. We have got to make our Marine and sailors more aware of PTSD before they end up like me and others."

Twiggs’ advice to his fellow soldiers: "Medicine alone will not calm PTSD symptoms. Therapy is a must…Alcohol and pills don’t mix…It is okay to mourn those you’ve lost, but remember, they don’t want you to be sad. They want you to celebrate their lives.”

Ellie