It was officially confirmed that the shooting at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, was, indeed, a murder-suicide. The identities of the two men were released and further information also concludes that Technical Sgt. Steven D. Bellino had recently went AWOL after failing a water endurance test, which was a part of the pararescue training, My San Antonio reports.
According to a veteran officer, Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder went out swinging during a confrontation with Technical Sgt. Steven D. Bellino. Schroeder allegedly sacrificed his life to save a non-commissioned officer.
Tech Sgt. Bellino was facing disciplinary action for going AWOL after he failed a water endurance test, necessary for his pararescue training.
The U.S. Air Force described Lt. Col. Schroeder as being 39-years-old and originally from Ames, Iowa. Schroeder was a veteran operations commander and the victim in this unfortunate tragedy.
Technical Sgt. Bellino was an Army veteran of Iraq and a former FBI Agent who decided to join the Air Force in order to become a Pararescuer, however, he became disgruntled when he was unable to pass the water endurance test, went AWOL, and was unable to face the consequences for his actions. Bellino was 41-years-old and was originally from Parma Heights, Ohio.
Brig. Gen. Trent Edwards, who was the commander of the 37th Training Wing, asked airmen to steer clear from speculating on social media about this incident. Edwards had only kind words to describe Lt. Col. William Schroeder, including that he was “an amazing airman, father and husband.”
Further mentioned at My San Antonio, an unconfirmed blog post was made, though recently removed, that may have explained the specifics on the incident. The blog stated the tech sergeant was previously with a first sergeant, a senior NCO. When Bellino produced one of his two Glock firearms, Schroeder told the first sergeant to run. Bellino allegedly shot at the first sergeant and missed. Schroeder fought with Bellino and was shot in the arm three times prior to being killed by a gunshot to the head.
The San Antonio Express-News did confirm that Tech Sgt. Bellino walked out after failing a water endurance test, rather than following the proper procedure and was later taken into custody in Ohio after being considered AWOL.
Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Nugent described the incident on Facebook.
“Lt Col William ‘Bill’ Schroeder, commander 342 TRS, was killed yesterday by a disgruntled student who was being administered (nonjudicial punishment). Know that Bill went out swinging. He selflessly gave his life to protect our (first sergeant) and countless others who were in the building.”
Nugent further asked for support for Schroeder’s widow and, “please keep Bill’s family in your thoughts and prayers in this time of need as he left behind a wonderful loving wife and two amazing boys.”
According to GI Rights Hotline, punishment for a military member going AWOL can vary tremendously from nothing at all to court martial. If facing court martial, the punishment can be a dishonorable discharge and/or jail time. Although most cases are solved without court martial, it is often threatened enough to scare those away who go AWOL, which eventually makes them a deserter, which has an even harsher punishment.
Military members often go AWOL for different reasons.
- Some are looking for a discharge.
- Some leave for a family emergency and leave wasn’t approved.
- Some become frustrated and leave without thought of consequences.
Certain factors may vary punishment and disciplinary action such as:
- Military Component and Branch
- Time and Duration of Service
- Duration of Absence
- Surrender vs. Apprehension
- Place of Surrender
- Intentions of GI
While this act of violence that took the life of Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder may have been due to a sense of Bellino’s fear of his upcoming disciplinary hearing, it is truly a tragedy.
TACP Association is raising money for Lt. Col. Bill Schroeder’s memorial and have already raised over $40,000.
[Photo by Senior Airmen Christopher Callaway/ U.S. Air Force]