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Soldier shot by Army police had history of PTSD, wife says

LANCE BENZEL Updated: December 10, 2010 at 12:00 am

A Fort Carson soldier who was shot Sept. 22 during a confrontation with Army police in his apartment on post was sent home early from Iraq this summer after becoming suicidal, his wife said.

Spc. Anthony Nicolas Jumangit, 23, had repeatedly warned supervisors in his chain of command that he didn’t believe he was mentally fit to deploy in March 2010 after a traumatic combat tour that ended in 2008, his wife, Rebecca Jumangit, told The Gazette.

After his early return in July, Jumangit complained that his antidepressant medication wasn’t working, and he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder so severe that he avoided driving and visiting crowded stores, she said.

“They just ignored him,” she said.

Jumangit, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, was shot in the hand during a confrontation inside a fourplex apartment he shared with his wife and their three children just inside Fort Carson’s main gate.

Police were responding to a call by Rebecca Jumangit that her husband was threatening to cut himself with a knife.

Fort Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt said after the shooting that the soldier advanced on officers with the weapon.

Two of the couple’s children were evacuated from the home moments before the shooting, a neighbor told The Gazette.

Anthony Jumangit was initially treated at Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs before being placed in a psychiatric facility operated by AspenPointe, a Colorado Springs behavioral health provider.

He was transferred to another facility early this week, either in Pueblo or Denver, his wife said. She said her husband’s unit in the 3rd Brigade’s rear detachment initially wouldn’t give her specifics, although McNutt said the Army would notify her as soon as possible.

No charges had been filed against Jumangit as of Thursday, McNutt said.

Col. Robert McLaughlin, the Fort Carson garrison commander, said he was barred by medical privacy laws from discussing Jumangit’s care in detail but said the soldier’s unit had done everything possible to get him help.

The 3rd Brigade rear detachment was coordinating outreach efforts with Army chaplains, military police and others, McLaughlin said, not only for Jumangit’s problems but for reports of domestic violence.

“We are all working together to help a troubled family,” McLaughlin said.

“What I don’t know about is what happened before the deployment.”

The officer who fired on Jumangit — a civilian Defense Department employee — was defending himself and fellow officers, officials said.

“He clearly had no other option than to do what he did,” McLaughlin said.

According to Jumangit’s wife, the soldier began struggling with severe effects of post-traumatic stress after a 2008 deployment during which a close friend died. He worried about bombs while driving, jumped at loud noises and suffered a fear of crowds that made him dread shopping trips, she said.

It was common for Jumangit to burst into tears and say that everyone would be better off without him, his wife said.

“The Army always says, ‘We’re all about family and all about the soldiers,’” Rebecca Jumangit said. “Well, I think that’s (expletive). My husband and me saw firsthand how much they care.”

A neighbor, 20-year-old Patricia Harris, said disturbances were common at Rebecca Jumangit’s house after her husband’s return.

“I think he needs help,” Harris said. “I don’t think he’s all that bad a guy, but I do know that he’s got problems. You can tell that it’s bad.”

Patricia Harris said Rebecca Jumangit confided in her about attempts to make sure Anthony Jumangit got help after she learned that he would be sent home early from Iraq.

“Rebecca had gone to the unit, the IG (Inspector General’s Office), to JAG (the Judge Advocate General), to anyone she could think of before he even got home,” Harris said.

“She told them that she did not want him at her house, because he needed help.”

Rebecca Jumangit couldn’t be reached for her response to Harris’ comments.

Court records show that Anthony Jumangit’s wife wasn’t the first person to sound alarms over his mental state.

In April 2009, a previous wife was granted a temporary restraining order against Jumangit after complaining of threats.

While their son slept upstairs, she wrote in her request, Anthony Jumangit told her she “needed to be careful because his job and purpose in life is to kill people, women children it did not matter, and one of these days he was going to snap on me.”

Call the writer at 636-0366.

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