Las Vegas Review Journal
October 1, 2016
Since his general discharge from the Marines under honorable conditions in January 2005, Laak said his Veterans Affairs service-related disability rating for PTSD has been increased in stages from 30 percent to 100 percent. At one time, he said, he was taking medication for nightmares but stopped, without explaining why he turned away from the VA’s efforts to help him cope with the mental illness.The horrors of war came home with Walter Laak when the Las Vegas Marine returned from two tours of combat duty in Iraq with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Today he sits in a jail cell, charged with beating and attempting to run over a Las Vegas pastor with his vehicle, then driving back to his victim’s home and firing multiple gunshots into it while the pastor’s wife and children hid inside. It is the third serious crime Laak has been charged with since his return from the battlefield. He was given a general discharge in 2005.
In two jailhouse interviews last week, Laak, 36, said he carried out the unplanned attack because he believed the pastor, a former neighbor, was an FBI “snitch” trying to interfere with his efforts to expose what he says were war crimes committed by U.S. military officials during the Iraq War.
In the interviews at the Clark County Detention Center, where he awaited a court appearance Monday to face charges of attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm, Laak spoke calmly about his war experiences and made some seemingly bizarre allegations about “friendly-fire” Marine deaths.
His first tour of duty began at the onset of the invasion of Iraq and lasted through his unit’s arrival in Nasiriyah, where he says his experience led to his ongoing struggle with what he calls “delusional” PTSD.
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