by Julian Emerson
Aug 02, 2016
Fiore, Blechinger and Knetter said their friend was adversely impacted by the explosion of a military vehicle during his last tour of duty that killed his best friend and others her served with. The blast resulted in hearing loss and a concussion for Helmbrecht. But the emotional damage went deeper, they said.Family and friends of the suspect in the fatal shooting of his 36-year-old neighbor Saturday morning said the tragedy likely could have been prevented had he received help with mental health problems that had worsened significantly in recent months.
Police arrested Shane M. Helmbrecht, 44, after they say he shot and killed Jenny Ward at her home at 105 Simon Court on Eau Claire's north side near Mount Simon Park. On Monday Eau Claire County Judge Jon Theisen set a $1 million bond for Helmbrecht, who told police he ingested methamphetamine the day before shooting Ward and has no mental health issues.
"This wasn't Shane," an emotional Tammy Fiore, a friend of Helmbrecht's, said of the shooting. "It was his mental illness ... People tried to get (Helmbrecht) help. They tried lots of times. But none of those efforts worked, and this is the result."
Friends said Helmbrecht, 44, a decorated military veteran, served tours of duty in Operation Desert Storm and later in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he cleared roadside bombs with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. He was once a fun-loving, humorous, caring friend who was a talented musician and carpenter, his friends said. He went out of his way to help others in need, they said, and had a big personality and a zest for life.
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