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Hearing set for Fort Bragg soldier who fired at police, firefighters in 2012

By GREG BARNES | The Fayetteville Observer (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 28, 2015

When Staff Sgt. Joshua Eisenhauer awoke in a hospital bed, he demanded to know: "Who's got the roof."

That was 3 years ago. Next week, the 33-year-old Eisenhauer is scheduled to be sentenced for shooting at police and firefighters from his apartment in west Fayetteville on Jan. 13, 2012.

The gunfire led to a four-hour standoff with police. When it ended, Eisenhauer was found on his kitchen floor, shot four times. No police or firefighters were seriously injured.

Eisenhauer's parents have never disputed their son's guilt.

But Mark Eisenhauer and Dawn Erickson have vehemently fought for a light sentence because of what their son endured during times of war - and what that did to him.

They say Joshua Eisenhauer was addicted to anti-anxiety medication that doctors prescribed to treat his severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

The PTSD was the product of two tours in Afghanistan that saw heavy combat, Mark Eisenhauer contends. After the first deployment, he said, his son began having nightmares, including one in which 500-pound bombs kept exploding around him while he was trapped on a rooftop.

He said his son witnessed the deaths of two friends during his second tour, when an enemy vehicle carrying explosives detonated as it swerved into their base.

Joshua Eisenhauer's case had dragged through the Cumberland County court system before gaining traction in February.

On Feb. 27, Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons accepted a plea agreement in which he dismissed 15 counts of attempted murder against Eisenhauer. In exchange, Eisenhauer pleaded guilty to 15 lesser counts of assault on law officers or government officials.

Ammons also ordered Eisenhauer to undergo testing to evaluate his criminal and medical history, social background and mental, emotional and physical health.

Eisenhauer was sent to Craven Correctional Institution for up to 90 days for the evaluation.

Sentencing, which will take the evaluation into account, will happen either Aug. 5 or Aug. 6, Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West said Monday.

Court records show that Eisenhauer still faces a maximum of 88 years, three months in prison, but his mother said the state has agreed to consolidate the charges.

"While Josh wanted to have his day in court, if he was found guilty of even part of the sentences for the original 15 charges, that could have resulted in an excessive jail sentence where he spent years in jail serving time for each charge," Erickson wrote in an email.

Eisenhauer's lawyers, Larry McGlothlin and Todd Conormon, could not be reached Monday for comment.

Erickson said her son remains on active duty. The Army in September had scheduled a separation hearing but postponed it indefinitely at the request of Fort Bragg's commanding general at that time.

Erickson said there has been no word on when the Army may take up the matter of separation.

The family is seeking a general discharge that would allow Eisenhauer to receive benefits - including mental health treatment - through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

West, the district attorney, and Eisenhauer's lawyers said in September that the Army had agreed to take over jurisdiction of the case but then decided against it.

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