The Tragedy of the War at Home: Marine of the Year Opens Fire on Crowd

Earlier today I was browsing the news and saw a headline on MSNBC about a Marine arrested for opening fire on a crowd. I clicked on a different headline and when I clicked back to check that one, it was gone (hmmm …) Hat tip to Tay Tay on DU for posting this story about a “Marine of the Year” who opened fire on a small crowd last night in Lawrence, MA.

Decorated Marine opened fire on noisy crowd

A man who was named “Marine of the Year” last month for his service in Iraq injured two people when he fired a shotgun from his apartment window at a group of revelers leaving a night club, police said.

A 15-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man were injured by bullet fragments when Daniel Cotnoir, 33, of Lawrence, allegedly fired a bullet at the crowd outside his second-floor apartment early Saturday.

Minutes before the shooting, Cotnoir called police to complain about the noise coming from the street around 2:50 a.m., The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reported.

Cotnoir, whose wife and two daughters were home at the time of the shooting, later told police he feared for his family’s safety because someone threw an empty juice bottle through his bedroom window.

Cotnoir was arrested and held on $100,000 bail. He was to be arraigned Monday in Lawrence District Court on attempted murder charges.

Clearly, Daniel Cotnoir needs help. “Cotnoir, now a Marine reservist, was a military mortician in Iraq. During his deployment last year, he was responsible for preparing soldiers for open-casket funerals.”

The article notes that in an interview last month with the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, “Cotnoir said the job took a heavy psychological toll. At the time, he was getting counseling at a veterans hospital in Bedford.”

We can only begin to imagine the horrors that Daniel Cotnoir experienced in Iraq. I have a dear friend who recently explained to me the duty’s of Marine “Bone Detail”, when he served in Vietnam.

This highlights yet another view of the tragedy of the Iraq war striking here at home. While Cindy Sheehan continues her vigil outside of Bush’s Crawford ranch, others across the country struggle daily with assimilating back into daily lives after serving in Iraq. We need to do more to help these people. We need to bring the troops home.

Daniel Cotnoir was honored by John Kerry for receiving the “Marine of the Year” award on July 14th.
John Kerry and Daniel Cotnoir

UPDATE: In another piece on this story from Editor & Publisher, it’s is noted that Cotnoir recovered the bodies of two of the contractors in the Fallujah incident. Cotnoir and his family live in a apartment above his family’s funeral home.

Cotnoir pleaded not quilty at a court hearing today and is “being held without bail for 20 days at Bridgewater State Hospital where he will undergo psychiatric tests to see if he is fit to stand trial,” Kelley (his lawyer) said.

UPDATE: From the AP News story on the Marine Daniel Cotnoir, this piece about another Iraqi Vet was at the end of the story:

Also on Monday, an Iraq war veteran appeared in court in Las Vegas to face charges of using an assault rifle to kill a woman and wound a man in an alley.

An attorney for Matthew Sepi, 20, said he acted in self-defense and should be eligible for psychological treatment.

Sepi, an American Indian from Winslow, Ariz., moved to Las Vegas after being honorably discharged as an Army specialist in May. Sepi told police he pulled an assault rifle from beneath his coat and reacted when he was ambushed in the alley.

NOTE: When I first posted this a few hours ago it had only made local news in MA. It’s all over the news wires now.

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9 Responses to The Tragedy of the War at Home: Marine of the Year Opens Fire on Crowd

  1. marco says:

    This is just the start of a tsunami of mental health problems we’ll be dealing with for the next four decades.

    p.s. remember methadone clinics?

  2. Ginny in CO says:

    PTSD : the worst tragedy of war. Iraq vets a year ago were hitting ‘Nam levels.
    I’m really concerned that the info about bin Laden being surrounded in Tora Bora and then escaping could really create more problems and larger numbers of Iraq vets that
    spend their lives with a bitterness that is hard to let go of.

    We need more funding for research, outreach, treatment. When I mentioned this to John Edwards at a rope line last year, he nodded and just said (above the din)

    “We Know.”

  3. Ginny

    It’s really heartbreaking. Sadly, I know the area well, where this Marine is from. It’s a large mill town in MA. From reading the story, the guy obviously needs more help than he is getting. It’s heartbreaking.

    More on this here

  4. Ginny in Co says:

    They all need more help than they can get. We still see WWII vets that have lived this long with the memories. The Korea and ‘Nam vets are still fighting it and the sight of all these kids coming back maimed is making a lot of stuff surface again.

    If you are familiar with Harry Potter, these guys are like people who have faced the
    dementors. And Holocaust prisoners.

    When they open up about their experiences, it’s overwhelming. One of the reasons
    Going Upriver and Kerry’s “Winter Soldier” experience were so powerful for vets who have or know PTSD. And the rest of us who know the victims,

    Maybe JK can use this as a platform for getting more funding. Not that his other bill can get out of committee….

  5. Todd says:

    Ironically, I was just transfering a Frontline documentary I taped back in the spring to dvd called “The Soldier’s Heart” about the mental costs of this war, when I read your post. Estimates range from 1 in 6 to 1 in 5 returning vets will need psychological treatment for everything from PTSD to despressive disorders, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc. In real numbers, that’s close to 500,000 men and women with problems. And the worst part of it is that the VA is completely underfuned and unprepared for this onslaught. Some have to wait six months after returning before the VA benefits will kick and pay for counseling or therapy.

    And with the recruitment levels down, the Army is now treating and then *sending back* to Iraq vets experienceing psychological problems. Unreal.

    I’d recommend checking out the Frontline website, where the documentary can be downloaded, if anyone is interested in more information. Yet another problem, courtesy of the man in Crawford, that we’ll be dealing with long after he’s gone.

  6. Ginny

    These stories seem to be all too prevelant now. It takes a certain sort of person to be a mortician. What he must have endured in Iraq is incomprehensible. I have an old friend in MA who is a mortician, who volunteered in NYC after 9/11. The few stories he told me were horrifying. Nothing compared to what this Marine saw in Iraq.

    Another aspect of this story that I find upsetting is that they sent to him to Bridgewater State for evaluation. While I understand he needs care, Bridgewater State is not the place!

  7. Todd

    Thanks for the heads up. I want to add some downloads to the front page of the website. I will check that out.

  8. Ginny in Co says:

    Thanks Todd, I have been boycotting MSM since November so I miss the actual good stuff.

    I agree Pam, his job was obviously one that would carry a heavy risk of PTSD. What got to me was the “Post war stress” label. This is no different than the stress of your friend who worked 9/11. PTSD is anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation – all related to the experiences that come back due to triggers you have no control over.

    One of the ‘Nam vets I had was a chopper medic. He was 19. Had to deal with the bodies in pieces, the bodies missing large areas, the decisions of who had a chance and who had to be left behind, often under enemy fire – which finally caught him in the chest.

    And the waiting list for treatment is 6 months. In Hell.

    Suicide is more logic than emotion.

    As deeply as I believe in forgiving, W will take a LONG time.

  9. Ginny

    Anyone can experience forms of PTSD, that is true. Tramatic experiences bring it on. Some suffer more than others do, I suppose it might depend on people’s abilities to assimilate stressful and tramatic events.

    We need to be doing more, there is no doubt. And until we do there will be more stories like this.