Chanhassen soldier kills himself

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 8, 2011 - 9:06 PM

A soldier from Chanhassen apparently killed himself on Sunday during a standoff with base authorities at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas.

Army Specialist David Mertz, 26, barricaded himself alone in on-base housing for several hours before the incident ended, Fort Bliss authorities said. Law enforcement officers did not fire during the standoff.

Although he refused to come out of the home, Mertz did not fire at anyone or make any threats, said Fort Bliss spokesman Major Myles Caggins. While the incident remains under investigation, it is believed Mertz killed himself.

"At this time the situation on Fort Bliss has concluded. We are saddened at the loss of one of our Team Bliss soldiers. His wife, daughters, family and fellow soldiers are in our thoughts and prayers," said Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, Commanding General Fort Bliss and 1st Armored Division, in a statement.

Mertz was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division.

Craig Mertz, of Chanhassen, identified David Mertz as his son to the Chanhassen Villager on Monday and said his son had been deployed to Iraq with a combat engineer brigade that cleared mine fields. Craig Mertz told the newspaper his son was despondent after suffering a back injury and also had expressed concerns about what he had witnessed in Iraq. Craig Mertz could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Mertz is at least the fourth active-duty soldier from Minnesota to have killed himself in recent years as the U.S. military struggles with record levels of suicide.

MARK BRUNSWICK

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