Vietnam Vet shot and killed in his own home: we need more training for Police!!

One day a few months ago I was doing some research on local veterans for a piece I was writing. As I scrolled through local news stories, one in particular caught my eye!

I started reading and couldn’t stop crying. This was a story about a local Vietnam Veteran who suffered from mental illness (most probably induced from being in Vietnam), who was shot and killed while he stood in side his house. Now, to be completely fair, he did have a firearm, but you have to dig a little deeper to find out what really happened and what caused this mild mannered man (by all accounts) to be standing in his kitchen holding a firearm, and then being fatally wounded by local police.

marshallfranklin1Marshall Franklin of Portsmouth Virginia served his country and did two tours in Vietnam. According to his family (Marshall had 9 brothers and sisters), Marshall was a creative man and had a gift for painting and making crafts. But when he came back from Vietnam, they say he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He didn’t like to take his medicine because he said it stifled his creativity, so he didn’t always take it according to Marshal’s sister Alberta. Having nearly three decades experience working with mental health patients, Alberta says she knew what should have happened. So when she found out Marshall wasn’t taking his meds, she called the community services board and was sure he would get the hep he needed. However, that is not at all what happened.

Before police officers surrounded the home of Marshall Franklin and a SWAT team moved in, all Franklin’s family could do was watch. The standoff ended with two officers shot and Franklin dead, a scenario, Franklin’s family says that could have been avoided. That is, if they ever got a chance to talk to him.

So when her brother Marshall – who’d been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress syndrome – wasn’t taking his meds, she called the community services board and was confident he’d get help.

However that wasn’t what happened.

According to a police summary of that day filed in court – “mental health was on scene” and told police the suspect “came at her with some type of sharp object.” It goes on to say officers saw Marshall with a “shank to his throat.” When police tried to take him into custody, they said Marshall lunged at them with the weapon. SWAT was called. More than 20 officers showed up at the home, and snipers were positioned on homes across from Marshall’s. Canine units were also called and arrived at the home. Seems a little excessive to me!

Marshall did not have a phone inside the house and Police were informed about this by the family.


Interestingly, according to a deposition taken in May by a high ranking police lieutenant and training director, in this incident “mental health may not have even been on site yet.”  Also, the mental health worker said in her deposition in June 2015 that she never assessed Marshall, and that an officer and a deputy were already there when she arrived. In fact, she said it was police who told her Marshall had a knife.

Also, according to a lawsuit filed by the family, there is no definitive evidence that Marshall fired the shotgun found next to his body or that the shotgun shells are even from that gun. While he did have guns and ammunition in the house , his family says he and his brother who lived with him in the house were avid hunters, and that is what the shotguns were used for.

You can find the lawsuit filing here.

To make matters worse, dozens of police showed up and surrounded the house, yet the family was not allowed to talk with Marshall, or have any contact with him. “He was blocked off from every single thing that he knew,” said his sister, Tony Franklin Dixon, “the people who loved him, the people who he trusted. He was not allowed to talk with us at all.” According to Marshall’s son, “When I got there,I asked them to let me talk to my father. But they wouldn’t let me go in there at all.”  “He died thinking that his family neglected him, didn’t care about him, and he was alone,” added Juanita Ebron, one of his other sisters.

When SWAT showed up at the home, they threw a negotiation phone in the house to talk to him. His family says it would have only worsened his condition.

“If you’ve got a person dealing with paranoia and post-traumatic stress and you’ve got bomb squads and people are throwing phones through your window,” said his sister, “obviously you’re going to go into a combat mode. Wouldn’t you think? And that’s what happened.”

Training the Portsmouth police better could have avoided this situation from escalating to the point that a man was killed and two officers were wounded (likely from friendly fire). Police Chief Ed Hargis has been named in the suit. He has since “retired” from Portsmouth and is now the Police Chief in Frederick Maryland. Interestingly in Frederick he has implemented the very programs that could have saved Marshall’s life.


The family is suing for $1.5 million claiming the former Police Chief Ed Hargis and his officers are responsible for Marshall’s death and they were negligent in handling someone with mental illness. “I would like for them to admit that they were wrong and they didn’t follow policies or procedures in this matter,” Yvonne said.

It will be up to a jury to decide the final outcome.

Here is a statement from the family:

“First of all, we are thankful to God that the injuries of the two police officers were not life threatening.  However, this incident demonstrates the lack of training and knowledge that the police officers have with working with the mentally ill population and those individuals who suffer with issues of post-traumatic stress syndrome after serving in the Vietnam War and military forces.  A mental health evaluation was requested to seek assistance with getting our brother back on his medication.  This matter was taken from a mental health screening request to a criminal matter before any shots were fired or any officers were injured.  His rights were violated, because he was at his home and he entered his property, which was his right.  No petition had been filed with the magistrate at this time; therefore, the police should have left the scene until a family member could have invited mental health evaluators into the home to complete the assessment.  Officers would not permit family members, i.e., hisuncle who lives several houses down or his son who was on site at the time to talk with him to deescalate the matter.  Instead the Portsmouth Police Department called 55 additional police officers, swat team, snipers, bomb squad, and military to handle one 60 year old man (soon to be 61 had he reached his birthday on March 5) suffering with paranoia and post traumatic stress syndrome.  Police surrounded the home and invaded him causing him to go into a combat mode due to feeling the need to protect himself .  Even after his death, family members were not notified by the Portsmouth Police Department even though detectives were stationed outside of nearby family member’s home where family was gathered.  We were notified by the local news and family and friends calling to express condolences.  This indeed is a tragedy for our mental health system especially following the incidents that occurred at Virginia Tech when people did not respond to warning signs and the need for a mental health evaluation.  Mental illness and post traumatic stress syndrome affects many if not most families.  We pray that this incident will not prevent other families from seeking mental health evaluations for fear that it will result in the death of the family member.  He could have been your brother, father, uncle, nephew, grandfather or maybe just your neighbor.  He was a hunter, artist, skilled craftsmen, builder, and a member and usher of the Garden of Prayer Temple #4 in Portsmouth.  We plan to seek assistance from our Regional Mental Health Advocate and the Virginia Office of State Protection and Advocacy.  We are also seeking any attorney who will assist the family with resolving this matter.  We would like to thank the community for your prayers and your support during this difficult time.”

And finally this report done by Wavy 10, a local station here in Southeast Virginia.

American flags for the neighborhood!

We have really been going through some crap in the United States lately. Shootings, burned churches, overt racism on the rise, the fight over the Confederate flag, whose picture should be on our paper money, the increased strain on our natural resources, etc etc etc.

But in this little neighborhood where I live something happened last week (July 3rd) that made me forget all that crap for a minute and actually feel patriotic and proud to be an American.  As a 20 year Navy veteran, it reminded me about why this is the only country where I want to live and how much I love the United States of America.

As I turned from my street onto the main drag that runs from the end of the neighborhood to the main road, this is what I saw:

Little USA flags lining both sides of the street
Little USA flags lining both sides of the street

A friend of mine took this pic.  Flags lining the street and military personnel in their PT gear running down the street surrounded by the flags:


Then she posted this picture a few hours later:


Notice something different??

Yup, the flags were gone…….after just a few hours… what happened?  Where and why did they disappear?? What happened to the American flags for the neighborhood!  ??

Do you see the little paper on each flag in the top picture?  That was attached to each flag, and it gave the name of the lady who bought them and donated them to our neighborhood, of her own unselfish accord.  However, unfortunately she also had her Realtor credentials on there, so the flags were deemed “solicitation”.  However, before they were deemed “solicitation” one woman complained and according to her was told that “they weren’t allowed to be there”,  (side note, they have been placed by this woman for years with no problems), so she took it upon herself to pull up the flags with her children.  ALL the flags………with her CHILDREN….. (oh and by the way she is a military spouse and was in the military herself)

One of my friends from the neighborhood started a private conversation on Facebook letting us know that this woman and her kids were taking down the flags.  I was out running errands when the FB messages started coming in.  When I read them I was so angry that I decided to do something about it!  So I called the HOA office and asked what was going on.  I was told they had “received a few calls about the flags being solicitation”.  I did ask why that particular lady and her kids were removing the flags and I was told she had decided to do that on her own.

So my next call was to the HOA President who agreed to let the flags go back in as long as the paper was removed from them.

My next call was to the woman who  purchased all the flags to ask her if she was okay with her name being taken off the flags so they could go back in the ground.  Of course as I expected she didn’t put the flags on the road for personal gain, but as a nice gesture to the neighborhood, so of course she said “YES!”  So with just a few phone calls, the situation had been fixed.

And just between you and me, I was all about making sure this happened just to show this woman who complained that she wasn’t going to win…..  so I was determined to make some phone calls and negotiate a way for the flags to go back!

In the meantime I posted on Facebook that the flags would go back up, and was looking for people who would come out and help replace them. (there had been an uproar on the private FB group for our neighborhood about the flags being removed).  A large group showed up to help the next morning at 8 am.

Neighbors replacing the flags.  :-)
Neighbors replacing the flags. 🙂

The kind, selfless, woman who placed the flags to begin with (Christina Kreutter) is in the back on  the left wearing a white hat.  There are at least two military retirees and four active duty military members in that photo as well!   There are probably hundreds of military families in this neighborhood which is why Christina’s gesture was even more meaningful!

Now just to keep things balanced and try to tel the WHOLE story, the woman who pulled up the flags with her children claimed that there were some flags on the ground because they had been knocked down by the cars driving by.  She stated when she called the HOA office to ask what to do about that, (ummmmmm why she needed to call is beyond me…..just put them back in the ground duh), she said she was told “they shouldn’t be there”, and so she was “helping” by her and her kids taking them up……

I find that story hard to believe.  If you were concerned with the flags on the ground, then just put them back in a bit farther from the road.  If you were concerned about MORE of them being knocked down, then just move them ALL back a bit….don’t take them out of the ground….sheesh….doesn’t take rocket science to figure that one out…..

Anyway, this is how the neighborhood looked from Friday morning July 3 until Monday evening July  6:



flags in bg

If you are in the Hampton Roads area, and need an honest, caring, Realtor I know a few……and one is Christina Kreutter, ABR, SFR.

Thank you Christina for making our neighborhood beautiful and reminding us that the United States is a beautiful place to live.  You filled our hearts with patriotism and pride!  And thank you to my friends AND neighbors who rallied together to replace the flags and make our neighborhood beautiful!!!

What is Memorial Day really about?

So, I was surprised and a little saddened that a post I put on Facebook actually garnered almost 40 responses, and many of them were in opposition to my original post.  So before I tell you what my post said, and the opposition I received, I first want to let you all know that I am a military retiree. I spent 20 of my 49 years of life on this earth serving in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman.  I feel that alone gives me insights into military rules, regulations, ceremonies, and  traditions that those who have not served in the military do not have in their toolbox.

Bahrain 2003
Bahrain 2003

For example, it is disrespectful to wear anything on your head in a military medical facility.  It is a sign of respect to the dead to remove your hat when entering, and during your visit to a military medical center.  Also, unfortunately as a Corpsman, I have had to assist my Commanding Officers with the Casualty Assistance Calls Officer program, and have had to personally tell at least 4 families their loved one had died while on active duty.  We were those people who showed up on your doorstep wearing a service dress uniform to be the first to tell you that your loved one was dead.  They didn’t know.  We were required to use the word “dead”.  I had to watch them register disbelief, then shock, then profound despair. It was our duty, and our honor to help the family with funeral arrangements for their service member and help them with benefits, headstones, etc.  It was a heart wrenching job, but one that I did with love and respect for my brothers and sisters and their families.

While serving at reserve centers in South Bend Indiana, and Fayetteville Arkansas I had to attend hundreds of funerals as the military honor guard, and fold flags and present them to loved ones with these sacred words:  “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy, and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service”  And had to maintain a straight face, no emotion while doing so.  It was my honor and privilege to do that for them!

However, that all being said, I feel that gives me a certain expertise about military traditions, and honors, especially when it is about days for honoring our service members past and present.  So, when I received some flak on my post I was surprised and a bit taken aback.

I don’t believe in saying “Happy Memorial Day”.  Memorial Day is not about being happy. I do not want people to thank me for my service on Memorial Day, I am still alive.  Memorial Day is a day to salute and honor the men and women who died while serving their country in the military.  My FB post said this: “Memorial Day is not a day to thank Veterans, it is a day to remember those who died and gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving. So please don’t thank me for my service, I am still alive. Thank those who died protecting ours, (and others’) freedoms.”

I received some comments about how it is okay to say “happy memorial day” because maybe people have happy memories of their loved ones.  I received comments about how every day is a good day to thank a veteran.  Comments about how we should realize that even serving in the military is a sacrifice and so Memorial day is about that too.

So, I hate to pull out the “I served for 20 years so I feel like I know more than you do about this subject” card, but that is how I feel.  You may have lost family members, and for that I am incredibly sad for you, but to be honest, (and maybe it is because I was a Corpsman and had to be so close to military death), I feel like that is NOT what Memorial Day is about.  Memorial Day is about the loss of Military lives.

Please use the ENTIRE other 364 days of the year to thank a Veteran for their service, (they deserve our thanks), but NOT Memorial Day.

For a Great history of Memorial Day, here is a link to section specifically about Memorial Day, AKA Decoration Day.

So, yesterday was an interesting day for me, as I waded through comments and tried to best to educate, and enlighten as much as possible about what the day truly means.  I did receive a few private messages from people thanking me for my words, and telling me that they agreed and I had taught them what Memorial Day is really about, so that was heartening.

Today, as I was preparing to write this blog, I came across this video done by a man named Chad Warner.  I think it visually expresses the point I am trying to get across.  This video is specifically geared towards Marines, but works for all branches of the Military. Thank you Chad.

My Memorial Day Tribute……UPDATE… To everyone who has shared this Memorial Video… I am Overwhelmed with Gratitude & Humbled… Thank You for honoring and remembering America’s fallen Heroes this weekend!!! Semper-Fi This is a tribute I created for Memorial Day Weekend…It’s a tribute to my fellow Marines Who Gave All in the pursuit of Freedom…There are actually 3 funerals in this tribute that I attended and I am dear friends with the Marine father who is saluting the casket of his Marine son….God Bless & Remember ALL Our Fallen Heroes This Memorial Day Weekend…

Posted by Chad Warner on Thursday, 2 June 2011