A 30-year-old Army staff sergeant with the 6th Ranger Training Battalion at Eglin Air Force Base has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, battery by strangulation and use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol in connection with an attack on a woman at a Navarre residence, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Staff Sgt. Damian Valdez had a blood-alcohol level of 0.211 — nearly three times the legal limit for a DUI charge in Florida — when a breath test was administered at the Santa Rosa County Jail following his Tuesday night arrest, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
At least two shots were fired during the incident, the report said.
Deputies were called to “a disturbance with a gun” shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Sheriff’s Office report. It that during the call from the victim “dispatch advised they heard a gunshot in the background.”
When deputies arrived, the 30-year-old victim, who by that time was outside the home with her two children, told deputies that Valdez was highly intoxicated and became very aggressive after learning she was seeing someone else.
The victim told deputies that as Valdez became aggressive, she went into a bedroom. Valdez broke down the door, pushed the woman onto the bed, climbed on top of her and wrapped his hands around her throat, forcing her to struggle to breathe, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.
The victim was able to break free, and Valdez then put on a bulletproof vest and other tactical gear, pulled a pistol from his waistband and threatened to kill the victim and her boyfriend, the report said.
Valdez then reportedly turned the gun on himself and put it in his mouth, “saying he was going to die tonight.” He then ran outside behind the home, and the victim subsequently heard a gunshot and called the Sheriff’s Office.
Valdez went back inside, and after what the report describes as “a brief standoff” with deputies, he came out wearing the tactical vest, which was holding several empty ammunition magazines and a military-issued smoke grenade. The loaded pistol was found later inside the home, according to the report.
Valdez was released from the Santa Rosa County Jail late Friday morning after posting a $13,500 bond, according to jail records. Since his release, Valdez has been under the supervision of the 6th Ranger Training Battalion, and his duties have been curtailed, according to Maj. Michael Campbell, the battalion’s executive officer.
Campbell said the battalion is “in full support and cooperation” with law enforcement and is assisting in the case.
© 2019 The Walton Sun
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