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Air Force tech sergeant commits suicide at Lincoln Memorial

A folded flag sits on a casket during ceremonial funeral training at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 22, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sadie Colbert/Released)
November 10, 2021

Air Force Technical Sgt. Kenneth Omar Santiago, 31, was found with a gunshot wound in his head Monday night on the steps leading to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in what police are investigating as an apparent suicide.

Mike Litterst, a National Park Service spokesman, said U.S. Park Police transported the victim “from the Lincoln Memorial plaza to a hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound” around 7:25 pm, the Washington Post reported.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police are now investigating the incident.

Hours before his death, Santiago posted a suicide note on his Facebook page. The post included a slideshow of photos of himself in the Air Force and others with his family and friends.

“Nobody ever knows when their time will come,” he wrote. “Even less, ever get to choose that moment. Life always has ups and downs, sometimes you don’t always come out on top. With a heavy heart, If you’re reading this, its because my time has come to an end at my own hands. (Not a joke) this is the last message to my friends and family.”

“Nobody ever knows who is struggling or wagging wars the eye cannot see. What does chronic depression even look like? They say you’re truly rich when you have family and friends who love you, food on my table and a roof over your head. I have also experience love multiple times in my life, yet I have never truly felt happy with life,” Santiago continued. “On my way out, I can’t help to wonder if I ever made a difference in the world. Did my insignificant life accomplished anything? I also realized there is not enough time In the world to to say goodbye to friends and family.”

“My relationship with my best friend and fiance (Taylor) failed. I have tremendous failures in my career. At times I think my close friends just tolerate me. Moreover, I feel truly alone. I always have. For a long time (years) Ive known I would take my own life. When Taylor and I split, life changed for me,” he added.

Santiago said the “search for happiness was never ending and I chose to finally be at peace.”

“It was a sickness of the mind that defeated me. Throughout my life I heard how much of a coward move it is to kill yourself. I would argue it took tremendous courage to pull the trigger, it’s a scary process,” he stated.

Santiago then wrote personal messages to his loved ones, including his mother, sister, ex-fiance, and a number of friends. He also addressed the Air Force, asking the branch to watch over his family and ex-fiance.

He asked to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.