A Marine Corps veteran is facing up to 40 years in prison for shooting his gun towards moving traffic in what he says was a PTSD-induced mental breakdown that he has no memory of.
Michael Bloch, 39, is a father-of-three who lives in Virginia with his wife, Adriana, and their three daughters. In February 2022 – 20 years after he first enlisted in the Marine Corps in the wake of 9/11 – he says he suffered a mental breakdown while visiting Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Michael drove to the outskirts of town, parked outside a Dollar Tree and started shooting at passing cars with his legally-owned handgun.
No one was injured, but his bullets struck a car carrying a husband and wife, an empty school bus and a stationary trailer parked across the street. He then shot into his own car and fled.
Now, he is facing up to 40 years in prison after being charged with two counts of felony discharging a weapon into occupied moving vehicle, discharge a firearm within city limits and injury to personal property and three felony firearm charges. He was indicted by a grand jury last September.
Michael Bloch, 39, spent 12 years in the Marines and completed three deployments to Iraq among others. He is now facing up to 40 years in prison for firing his gun into traffic last year in what he says was a PTSD-induced breakdown
On February 15, 2022, Bloch says he was triggered into a mental episode during a visit to Camp Lejeune. The incident was captured on Ring cameras from his friend’s homes and surveillance footage. He is shown storming out of his friend’s house on the phone, ranting about having ‘free will’ before getting in his car
Bloch drove some 40 miles to a Dollar Tree in a town he’d never been to. He got out of the vehicle and began jumping around erratically before pulling out his weapon
Bloch threw his phone on the ground, stamped on it, then fired shots into traffic on the highway adjacent to the parking lot. He did not aim at any cars and no one was hurt, but he struck an empty school bus and a Ford carrying a husband and wife
Surveillance footage of the incident shows Michael jumping erratically and firing his 9mm handgun sporadically into the moving traffic from the parking lot of a Dollar Tree.
While a grand jury and prosecutors in North Carolina are eager to pursue the case criminally, Michael and his wife have asked that it be moved to a Veterans Treatment Court.
‘This is not how veterans should be treated,’ he told DailyMail.com, describing the charges as a ‘disgrace’.
Bloch in his mugshot from last year. He is asking that his case be moved from criminal court to Veterans Treatment Court
‘I don’t understand it. The DA [Ernie Lee] is a veteran himself. He didn’t see combat, but I’d assume the core values of serving would matter and he would at least give some sort of acknowledgment to that but they refuse to acknowledge it.
‘It’s bigger than just me. It is absurd that in 2023, with all of the things that we have available to us, the technology and understanding of the brain and mental health, we just still refuse to acknowledge mental health when it comes to PTSD and TBI in veterans.’
Doctors letters that he has presented to court appear to confirm his psychotic episode along with his PTSD and TBI diagnosis.
Veteran Treatments Courts are ordinarily reserved for alcohol and drug-related offenses where in place of a custodial sentence, defendants are entered into treatment programs like AA.
Michael is fighting to have his case become one of the first where a PTSD or medication-induced crime is treated with a mental health treatment plan.
A letter from a psychologist confirmed his belief that a medical reaction contributed along with his lack of sleep, and the motorists whose cars he struck have written letters to request that the charges be dropped.
He believes his breakdown was caused by a combination of the symptoms from his traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and Nuvigil – an insomnia drug he was prescribed through Veterans Affairs. One of the most warned against side effects of the drug is psychosis.
The owners of the two vehicles Bloch fired his gun at both wrote letters asking that the charges be dropped
Bloch enlisted in 2002 after 9/11. Among his deployments was one to Husaybah in 2004, where some of the worst bloodshed of the Iraq war was seen
Michael had been taking Nuvigil for four years, after struggling to readjust and sleep when he was honorably discharged in 2014 following a brutal injury. He was stabbed in the face with a bayonet during a training exercise, nearly killing him and wreaking havoc on his facial nerves.
After leaving active service, he started contract intelligence work, serving another seven years in those roles.
‘When Michael first got out, he very much suffered from an identity crisis that you see, I would argue with most veterans but especially special operations veterans,’ ‘ his wife, Adriana, told DailyMail.com.
‘He didn’t retire – he was plucked out of the prime of his career then left in real society like, now what?
‘He had all this damage to his face but he was still in tip top shape. He was physically not impaired, but he had this huge void, this vacuum and it sent him spiraling into depression.
‘He was lost. I was very worried about him.’
Enlisting aged 18, Michael deployed three times to Iraq including twice to Husaybah, where 16 Marines were killed in April 2004 during the 28-hour long Battle of Husaybah.
Bloch with his wife Adriana and their three children. The family is begging for a dispensation from the prosecutor in charge of the case
He the served in Afghanistan, Jordan and Iraq, before being honorably discharged in 2014. By February 2022, he had started his own software business and had driven from Virginia to North Carolina for a meeting at Camp Lejeune.
When he arrived, he says the smell of smoke and sound of explosions during an on-base training exercise set off a ‘deep trigger’ that he believes is the start of the psychotic episode.
‘It started as I was driving in. That’s the last thing I remember. I was coming into the area and I was just remembering what it was like when I was stationed down there. It felt like I was back in time.
‘I started to feel a little, just tension, I could feel it so I rolled the windows down.
‘There was a training exercise going on so there was smoke and explosions and the smell of it… and that’s it. That’s all I remember,’ he said.
He was due to attend the meeting with an active-duty service member friend, Steve, but Steve noticed his erratic behavior and questioned him before they entered the base.
Michael then fled the area in his own car. He was next seen at 3.08pm, driving into the Dollar Tree parking lot 34 miles northwest of Camp Lejeune.
Bloch during another MARSOC tour. He says he is shocked and hurt by the lack of consideration for his PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury)
Surveillance footage from the store shows him getting out of the car then jumping on the ground and ‘screaming’. He then threw his phone to the ground, ‘stomped’ on it, then retrieved his handgun from the car.
First, he fired five rounds into the air. He then fired twice at a passing white minivan, twice at a Ford Econoline being driven by Billy Griffin, with his wife Tammy Griffin also in the car. Michael struck the vehicle in the tire and windshield, but neither Billy nor Tammy was hurt.
Next, he fired twice at a yellow school bus being driven by Traci Best. There were not any children in the bus.
Finally, he fired three shots into a mobile home owned by Oscar White, then he fired into his own vehicle. He was then filmed getting back into the car and driving away.
By then, he had spoken with Adriana on the phone.
Prior to the incident in February, Bloch had only ever been in trouble with the law for traffic incidents
‘He was talking gibberish, talking complete nonsense. He was out of reality and I told him to pull over but he wouldn’t.’
Eventually, his car – which he had also shot – died on the side of the road.
A friend was able to find his location through his work phone and track him down, and Adriana drove from Virginia to collect him. They were on their way home, the following day, when he spoke with an Onslow County Sheriff’s Deputy, that he was even told there was a police investigation.
‘They told me there were no charges and I didn’t need a lawyer so we didn’t know about the actual event until after I was in jail,’ Michael said.
By the time they got home, the sheriff’s department in Onslow County, North Carolina, had contacted those nearest his home in Virginia, requesting that they serve a warrant.
‘I was greeted by a full SWAT compliment. They had a combination of squad cars, SUVs, armored vehicles, a command station across the street, K-9 units, the whole compliment, in my neighborhood, all of my neighbors saw this and all of them were aware it was me as I was paraded through my front yard, my back yard, and into the back street where they searched and cuffed me.’
He spent two weeks in jail before being extradited to North Carolina and is now awaiting his next court date, furious that his PTSD is not being taken into consideration.
District Attorney Ernie Lee did not respond to repeated inquiries from DailyMail.com
‘The government has no problem taking our men and women and making them into lean, mean, fighting machines. But they get broken. They chew them up, spit them out, then they do nothing for them when they’re left broken on the civilian side of the next chapter of their life.
‘Our government has no problem using us for war but can’t seem to come up with a holistic option to help veterans if they might have a run in with the law and their health.
‘You won’t have a war-fighting force if that’s the message you’re going to send.
‘We don’t have a draft. My husband served this country voluntarily,’ Adriana, who works in intelligence, said.
District Attorney Ernie Lee did not respond to repeated inquiries from DailyMail.com.
Assistant District Attorney Michele Morton, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment, citing the state’s rules against attorneys speaking publicly about cases while they are pending.
Bloch and his family are raising funds to cover his legal bills via a GoFundMe page.
Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com