By Debbie Gregory.
An Army veteran is recovering from a serious, but not life-threatening gunshot wound to the upper chest after he brandished a knife and was shot by police at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ clinics in White City, Oregon.
Gilbert “Matt” Negrete had sought help for paranoid delusions. He has been charged with attempted assault, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and other crimes.
His father described the knife as a paring knife. “It’s a tiny little knife, but I’m sure to them it looked huge,” he said.
VA police had tried “less-lethal force options” to disarm Negrete before one of the officers fired.
Matt’s father, Gilbert, said he drove his son to the clinic in an attempt to get his son treatment for paranoid delusions that led him to believe he was being monitored and watched.
Days before the incident at the VA, police had arrested Negrete on charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and attempting to elude police. Prior to that, he was arrested for disorderly conduct following a September assault for punching a man in the nose who was trying to break up a bar fight.
Matt Negrete’s estranged wife, Alyss Maio, said that “he wasn’t like this before he deployed.” Her husband’s mental health problems first manifested after he returned from a 2009 Iraq tour and a 2011 Afghanistan tour with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York, she said. He’d served as a helicopter electrician, diagnostician and technician before his honorable discharge, she said.
“Within 30 days of his coming home, it was very clear he had changed,” she said.
Negrete started drinking more and harbored “a lot of anger” he wouldn’t discuss, according to Maio, who has three children with him.
Maio said her husband’s problems ebbed and flowed after he was discharged.