An army veteran’s PTSD and how it led to a 12-hour standoff with police

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The family of 39 year old Eliot Davis says he’s still in the hospital after setting off several explosions and allegedly trying to kill himself. His story sheds light on the importance of getting help, before it’s too late.

These explosions mark the end of Davis’ 12 hour standoff with police. It happened at his brother’s house, near Memorial Hospital on San Dimas and 32nd Street. BPD says officers initially responded to calls of Davis assaulting his ex-wife with a hammer. His brother’s wife – Beth Shook – says she saw the chaos unfold. She and the couple’s 4 year old son were allegedly in the house when it happened.

“He was standing in the door looking outside. He had his hand on the knob and was standing in the doorway,” Shook said. “And rather than pull the door knob out of his hand, I lifted the curtain and right out there by that tree, my brother in law was beating her in the head with a hammer.”

Davis’ ex-wife escaped and drove to a nearby store, where someone called an ambulance for her.
She told 17 that she’s been treated for her injuries, but has yet to fully recover.
Beth Shook says she and her husband tried to take the 4 year old to a safer place, but davis grabbed the child.

“My husband tried to go after him and his brother came into the house at that point and said no he’s going to stay with me,” Shook said. “I mean he’s got a hammer in his hand. My husband decided it would be the safest thing to go ahead and leave.”

Police arrived a few minutes later. They say davis took the 4 year old into the house and threw an explosive at officers trying to arrest him. BPD and a SWAT team waited outside and tried to communicate with him. They finally broke into the house at around 4am, that was when davis lit his last explosives. The four year old was treated for his injuries and has since reunited with his mom. Davis is still recovering.

It couldve been avoided had davis gotten the help he needed to treat his ptsd. He served two tours in the us army – one in Afghanistan and the other in Iraq. The national center for PTSD says up to 20 percent of veterans who served in those wars have PTSD. Davis’ sister – Cassandra Barron – says when davis returned in 2005, something was off.

“It was evident he was not the same. He was more paranoid. More easily agitated,” Barron said.

17 News spoke with Davis five years later about the mental toll of returning from war.

“You’re over there, your body’s being pumped full of adrenaline for a year straight, you know, that’s one of the best drugs there is, adrenaline and then you come home strung out on adrenaline,” Davis said.

He struggled with feelings of isolation and loneliness.

“It’s like you cant really connect with anybody like on an emotional level, because they don’t understand how you feel, how you feel inside,” Davis said.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Corey Gonzales says this feeling is common among vets with ptsd.
Common signs include being easily startled, sleep issues, and drug abuse.
Dr. Gonzales says your body tries to protect you after trauma – which results in panic attacks and avoidance of group settings.

“After going through a trauma a lot of times, their fight or flight response that’s going on is overactive and damaged,” Gonzales said. “So it’s going off all the time even when its not needed. Driving chemicals in our body and driving a lot of anxiety so it’s difficult for them to go out in public and socialize.”

He says vets often dont want to share their experiences with civilians and recommends that they join support groups with other vets.

“It’s difficult cus a lot of guys, particularly marines who have been in combat, have been trained to not have weaknesses or to be strong. So for alot of guys its difficult to reach out for help. But when you educate them on what this is and particularly get other vets involved, you remind them that they’re not alone, this is something that can be managed, and its something that’s a serious problem.”

He recommends family or friends of a veteran showing these symptoms call the u-s veterans affairs department to get them screened. They can also go to a clinical psychologist to get rated for their disorder and can receive benefits for their sacrifice. After being diagnosed, there are a few ways someone with PTSD can manage these problems.

“If you stop the dangerous thoughts of your mind, cognitively, and you learn to slow your breathing down,” Gonzales said. “You can get your nervous system back to normal within 3-5 minutes. But it takes practice. Gaining insight into the triggers that cause ptsd so you dont get triggered in public. Learning relaxation techniques. The calm app, headspace, any kind of meditation those types of things help you learn to manage that hyper arousal so it doesnt impair your life.”

He says medication, therapy, and exercise can help as well.

If you or an army veteran you know has PTSD and needs help, click here to find resources from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

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