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Special Operations trainee who killed his squadron commander at Lackland was ex-FBI agent

First responders and FBI agents gather near the scene of a shooting at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Friday, April 8, 2016, in San Antonio.

JOHN DAVENPORT/THE SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS/AP

By DAN LAMOTHE AND ADAM GOLDMAN | The Washington Post | Published: April 9, 2016

An enlisted airman who served previously in the FBI killed the commanding officer of his Air Force Special Operations training squadron in an apparent murder-suicide Friday after facing a disciplinary hearing, U.S. officials said.

Tech. Sgt. Steven D. Bellino, 41, killed Lt. Col. William A. Schroeder, 39, at the Medina Training Annex of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas before turning a gun on himself, U.S. officials said. Bellino joined the Air Force in June 2015 and was a student with the 342nd Training Squadron, Air Force officials said. The unit provides training and screening in pararescue, combat control, explosive ordnance disposal and other skills used by elite units in Air Force Special Operations Command.

“A tragedy of this type is felt by each and every member, but we will pull together to help our own,” said Brig. Gen. Robert D. Labrutta, the top commander on the base. “The 502d Air Base Wing and all of Joint Base San Antonio convey our thoughts and prayers to the families who were impacted by this tragedy and our entire focus is to ensure they have the support they need to persevere during this very difficult time.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh posted the following message on Facebook: "With heavy hearts, we collectively mourn the loss of Lt. Col. William Schroeder. His memory will live on through those who loved him and the Airmen he led. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends, his Airmen, and all whose lives he touched."

Bellino, first identified by The Washington Post early Saturday afternoon, had previously worked for less than two years in the FBI, partly in the New York field office. It was not immediately clear how Bellino obtained the rank of technical sergeant, a mid-ranking enlisted airman, after serving in the Air Force for less than a year. But the Air Force does have a program that allows veterans with previous military experience to join the service full time to take specific jobs that are hard to fill, including pararescueman.

In a statement Saturday, the FBI said that Bellino was a special agent for less than two years when he resigned in May 2013.

Schroeder was a weather officer who commanded numerous Special Operations units over the past decade. He joined the Air Force in 1999 and had been the commanding officer of the 342nd Training Squadron since June 2014.

The shooting occurred about 8:40 a.m. in a first-floor office at Forbes Hall, a large building that includes classrooms and a theater, Air Force officials said Friday. It is used regularly by airmen in training for Special Operations. Two Glock handguns were found at the scene.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is examining what happened with assistance from the FBI. Service officials have characterized the incident as workplace violence and said there is no indication that terrorism was involved.

The shooting prompted a lockdown at Lackland that lasted more than 90 minutes. The training annex is outside of San Antonio and west of the main Lackland base.
 

Lt. Col. William Schroeder, 342nd Training Squadron commander, speaks during the 342nd TRS Detachment 3’s deactivation ceremony on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 31, 2015.
CHRISTOPHER CALLAWAY/US AIR FORCE