Murder-suicide leaves many searching for answers
Posted September 28, 2013
Updated September 30, 2013
Fayetteville, N.C. — A former Fort Bragg soldier and father of two who police say fatally shot two of his neighbors and their dog Saturday night before turning the gun on himself suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, his wife said Sunday.
"I feel that it was just eating him alive," Danica Thomas, told WRAL News. "I am truly and deeply sorry for the families that suffer because of this."
Lt. Todd Joyce of the Fayetteville Police Department said police responded to 7905 Gaza Court in the Farmington subdivision in Fayetteville around 8:15 p.m. Saturday after Thomas called 911 asking for help because her husband, Allen Thomas, was in their front yard firing a handgun.
While responding to the call, police were notified about a nearby shooting at 6713 Potters Court, where they found Ann Awaldt, 68, dead and her husband, Todd Awaldt, 48, seriously injured.
He was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he later died.
About a half-mile away at Christina Street and Hoke Loop Road, investigators later found Allen Thomas, 29, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"It is a random act," Joyce said. "Detectives believe the suspect did not know the victims."
But unclear is what exactly prompted the shootings.
Danica Thomas said her husband of nearly three years and father of her 5-month-old and 3-year-old girls recently retired from the U.S. Army after serving several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where, in March 2010, he was injured in a suicide bombing that caused both his lungs to collapse and left him nearly 90 percent disabled.
He had been diagnosed as having severe PTSD, Danica Thomas said, but everything appeared fine with her husband on Saturday until she heard him firing the gun.
"It went from zero to 100 within seconds," she said. "My husband was such a good person. He just snapped."
Robert Casper, who lives on Potters Court, said he heard what he thought were firecrackers going off and was on his way to ask his neighbors to keep it down when he saw Allen Thomas running from a garage.
"A guy runs outside, turns right back around and goes back inside the house for less than a minute," Casper said. "He comes back outside running full-tilt and he gets to the center of the cul-de-sac."
Then, Casper said, a neighbor confronted Allen Thomas.
"All of a sudden, he shoots at the neighbor and hits his truck, and then (Thomas) runs across the street in between two houses and then out of sight."
Neighbor Phil Reilly said he was inside watching TV when he heard a rapid fire of what he thought to be five or six gunshots.
"It gives you pause for thought," Reilly said. "Because it could have been us. Whoever this person was, it could have been our house."
Ann Awaldt had a civilian job at Fort Braggm and Todd Awaldt worked the last 11 years as a maintenance employee for Cumberland County Schools.
"Todd and Ann were amazing and generous people," his sister-in-law, Janet Awaldt, said in an email to WRAL News Monday. "(They were wonderful people who would do anything to help someone else. The Awaldt family is small and very close-knit, so losing these two beautiful people is beyond tragic."