Man Who Shot Deputy Underwent Change in Iraq
The disturbed Iraq War veteran who shot and killed a deputy sheriff and then committed suicide last week is one of many troubled returnees from the war that officially ended Wednesday.
Martin Abel Poynter was a Green Beret whose troubles apparently started in the sands of a distant desert.
He was a Special Forces medic who served in Iraq with the 7th Special Forces Group, the SF group that lost more soldiers in recent conflicts than any other.
Records show Poynter came back from the war a changed man. He was in Moore County in April 2007 when he was picked up on a warrant for desertion and held until Army officers picked him up later that day.
That warrant had been issued in Cumberland County, and at the time the Army warned that Poynter "is a soldier in the Army Special Forces Group and may be trained in martial arts along with other specialized training."
The Army asked for a "no bond" felony hold for extradition, and while Magistrate Doyle Markham chose not to jail Poynter without bond, he did set the bond at $2 million.
Poynter's wife, Susan Corinne Poynter, sought a protective order the following month, claiming in court papers that she feared the effect that his increasingly violent and disturbed behavior was having on her four young children.
She said her husband had become controlling, that he was keeping the family away from others and isolated in their home at 753 Morrison Bridge Road outside Vass. Records show that house was still in Poynter's name last week when he and his brother, Joshua Poynter, returned.
A neighbor thought the two men might be trespassers, and Moore County sheriff's deputy Rick Rhyne responded to the call. After identifying the two, Rhyne checked, as usual, for any outstanding warrants and was told there was a child-support warrant out on Martin Poynter.
When Rhyne attempted to arrest him, Poynter pulled out a pistol and shot and killed Rhyne, then himself.
What exactly happened at that time is still under investigation by the Moore County Sheriff's Office, according to Lt. Bill Mackey, of the detective division.
Subdued With Stun Gun
Mackey had been part of a special response team (SRT) assisting in detaining Poynter on May 29, 2007, acting on a home check requested by his father-in-law the same day the protective order was filed.
"He said he hadn't been able to reach or get in touch with anybody in the family," Mackey said. "He wanted us to check on the residence. We were briefed about his military training and were sent along to keep things from escalating."
Poynter came to the door but then became uncooperative and refused a request by officers to step outside. The special team was there in support because the department had been made aware of the soldier's military training.
When he would not cooperate, officers used a stun gun to subdue him and take him into custody.
At that time, Poynter was committed involuntarily to the psychological ward at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center, where he was held for mental examination and treatment.
His wife later said doctors diagnosed her husband with "schizo-affective disorder, sexual addiction and emotional disconnect that hinders him from forming healthy emotional relationships," according to court papers.
"He did get treatment, and he didn't come back," Mackey said. "I assume he was discharged. It might have been a medical discharge."
Soldiers returning from the stress of battle frequently have trouble, Mackey said.
"They have the capability and training to hurt others," he said. "It becomes a special situation."
Mackey mentioned another Army-related murder-suicide that occurred this week in nearby Raeford when a Special Forces soldier just back from Afghanistan killed his wife and then committed suicide.
"There are more incidents where they hurt themselves than other people," he said. "There are more suicides than murders."
Joshua Poynter was given a number to reach the medical examiner - Jennie Riley - who examined his brother before the autopsy but after he was taken from the scene to Boles Funeral Home in Southern Pines. His body remains at Boles pending funeral arrangements - which are incomplete, according to funeral director Michael St. Onge.
"I know his mother, other family, live in Missouri," St. Onge said Thursday.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a continuing medical challenge for the military.
After incidents at Fort Bragg in 2002, when returning soldiers killed their spouses, the Army initiated a formal procedure to assist soldiers returning from overseas deployments in the process of reacclimating to family life.
There are five phases of reunion, the Army says, from the first few days before, the immediate meeting and first few days after arrival - a time of courtship, relearning, intimacy, and a happy time or honeymoon and not the time to address problems but a time for understanding.
Then problems often come up concerning new routines, reconnecting, redefining family roles, and issues of control and decision-making. New rules will be established. Finally, things hopefully begin to return to normal.
Sometimes things don't.
Retired Maj. Gen. Sid Shachnow - who works with Sentinels for Freedom and other efforts helping badly wounded soldiers re-enter civilian life - said last week that he worries how the nation will deal with thousands of warriors returning from the field as the war in Iraq ends.
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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