Justus Albert Leach, A 26-year-old Army veteran of the Iraq war, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his backyard at 71 Ft. Caroline Lane Sunday. It was the third suicide by gunshot in five days in Palm Coast.
A roommate of Leach’s found him Sunday morning in a corner of the backyard, on a bench. “A tactical shotgun was also observed” near Leach, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s Office report. The gun had been moved by another roommate after he had been advised by a 911 dispatcher to attempt CPR.
But a deputy reported that by then Leach appeared to have been dead “for some time,” according to the report. Leach was pronounced dead by a paramedic at 8:57 a.m. Sunday (June 11).
Neighbors did not report hearing any gunshots, according to the deputy.
Leach had studied at Florida State College in Jacksonville, according to his Facebook page, and had served in the military, in Army infantry, until his discharge in 2013. He had been posted in South Korea and served in Kuwait and Southern Iraq in 2011. From there, he had posted a note written wither by him or by a member of the Ironhorse Brigade of which he was a part, which read in part: “I am proud to say that our Troopers have performed honorably, and accomplished a mission that will serve as a significant milestone in the history of the United States and Iraq. Great progress has been made in the past 8 years since U.S. Forces took military control of Iraq in 2003, and 1st Brigade and its Troopers played a valuable role in that progress up until the very end.”
Over the years, Leach wrote of several difficulties, surgeries and depression among them, finding out in 2013 that sometime during his Army days he’d broken his back. The previous year, he’d written: “i don’t always hurt myself but when I do I [mess] myself up.”
He always marked Veterans Day with a note to fellow-soldiers, as he did a few years ago: “Happy veterans day to my brothers and sisters who have fought for this wonderfull country, to all my friends I’ve lost and those that are still alive and kicking ass I’m downing beers for you today as per tradition.”
He was a fan of Star Wars, “Blazing Saddles” and the Doobie Brothers, and posted freely and often about what and whom he was no fan of. He had lived at the house on Fort Caroline since February.
Last July, the Veterans Administration reported that, based on records from 2014, an average of 20 veterans per day died from suicide, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides among adults in the country, even though veterans represent just 8.5 percent of the population. That year alone, 7,403 veterans killed themselves–or 572 deaths more than the combined American combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan in 16 years.
In 2010, veterans accounted for 22 percent of suicides, at a time when almost one in 10 adult American was a veteran. Two-thirds of veteran suicides are the result of a gunshot.
On June 8, a 92-year-old Palm Coast resident took his life after driving to the old Players Club tennis court, and leaving a note and instructions behind for his family. He had been depressed and battling cancer. Two days earlier, a 49-year-old resident of Plantation Bay took his own life at his home. Both men died of gunshot wounds.
RIP so sad. Prayers to the family
John F Pollinger says
No one knows their pain and despair. Terribly sad news that he felt it was the only way. My heart breaks for him as well as the family and friends left to deal with his passing.
John Boy says
WHEN ARE WE GOING TO STOP FIGHTING THESE SENSELESS WARS ??
Rest In Peace thank you for your Service
Tired of it says
Rest in peace you brave warrior.
So very tragic
Scott Stacy says
Justus’s favorite band was Van Halen (with David Lee Roth) his favorite song was Little Dreamer from the Van Halen I album. He was the nicest and coolest guy. We’ll miss him tremendously.
Dave S. says
I mourn the death of this young man who was just entering the prime of his life. I can’t fathom the emotional pain he must have been suffering that led to this.
About 60 percent of the gun deaths in this country are suicides. Rage, domestic quarrels, and alcohol abuse can also spiral out of control in a family setting resulting in tragedy . If you own a firearm, it is far more likely to be used against you or one of your loved ones than it would be in protecting them.
I am not anti-gun or in favor of any new gun laws. But it is indisputable that owning a firearm is at least as much of a threat to your family’s safety as it is likely to save them from threats. Consider all of the possibilities before arming yourself.
out of town says
May you R.I.P Justus Albert Leach..My thoughts and prayers go out to his family..So sorry for you loss..Thank you for your service to our country..May God Bless
RIP my brother in arms.
Such a tragedy! My condolences to this man’s friends and family.
David Schaefer says
RIP Thank you for your service ,Prayers to his family and friends.
another vet says
RIP to another brother in arms
Why does this need to happen? Veterans are still not being monitored for PSTD like they should. We need to take care of them. As a fellow veteran it saddens my heart to see another fellow military member take their life. RIP brother!
Shelly R. says
Rest in peace, my brother-in-arms. If any Veteran feels helpless or alone and is contemplating harming themselves, please please reach out. Contact Vets4Warriors at 855-838-8255 or on their website at Vets4Warriors.com. It is staffed completely by Veterans who have been there and understand. Please reach out and let us help!
Damn, I get so angry to read of this happening. They gotta stop sending these kids back and forth. After VN with 1 year in country the suicides continue off the charts. Now it’s the same deal all over again. The government just does not learn.
Although many news media do not regard a private suicide as a news item, I’m glad FlaglerLive did report his passing so we have a clearer understanding of the situation of our younger veterans. No way to know if he was receiving any psychological treatment by the VA, but presumably they were following his spinal injuries. The recent murder of 3 more GIs by an Afghan soldier shows the heavy price we are paying to prop up regimes fighting civil wars.
Concerned Observer says
To our Illegal Aliens, we owe nothing. To our Veterans, we EVERYTINIG…
The Vets when they are discharged, leave a brotherhood. Like missing a family – they are alone. Very easy for depression to set in, especially after living on the edge for years. It should be mandatory for all Vets to attend home based Veterans Club and join other Vets like a half-way house for Vets before they can receive their discharge papers. It can only help. They have nothing now from what i see.
Very sad, yet another death that can be laid at the feet of Georg Bush.
Wars will never end, some people make a lot money with them.
Jon ballard says
Watch the hidden enemy on youtube. It may shed some light for many as to why their loved ones are committing suicide. Then share it and spread the intel. Stop the abuse of our protectors and warriors that keep watch and ard ofcour country eveyday while we peacfully sleep easy in a/c.
GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES. ALSO lookon favebook for drinkin bros. Their ain jective
Regina Reifinger says
Memorial Day there were barbeques, parades, family gatherings. All made possible by veterans’ selfless sacrifices. Let us pause to remember and show our gratitude to this veteran that served and remember this soldier’s laughter, joy, kindness, intelligence and passion for his country.
TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program – Remember the love,Celebrate the Life, Share the journey
Lisa Cancel says
Our hearts are broken by his death. Here at Salvation Army, Flagler we knew Justus and worked with him very closely to achieve some of his goals. We are very saddened by this. Our hearts goes out to his family, friends and loved ones. Rest in peace. Lisa Cancel program Manager for SSVF veterans program, Bunnell office.
LJ real says
Justus was a nearby neighbor and its so hurtful to hear if all these fine People in their tragic departures
Memorial Day evening was another tragic departure of a fine young army soldiers wife and loving Mother leaving 4 children, to help pls donate to Intraciastap Bank acct to benefit Veteran
Kristopher Somerford and 4 children survivors they are in immediate need .TY