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Brig. Gen. Tinsley's death was suicide; motive a mystery

By JEFF SCHOGOL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 7, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. — The death of Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley has been ruled a suicide, a spokesman for the 3rd Wing in Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, said Friday.

Tinsley, who served as executive officer to Air Force Chief of Staff T. Michael Moseley from 2005 to 2007 and was 3rd Wing commander at the time, died of a gunshot wound in July at his home on Elmendorf.

A spokesman for 3rd Wing confirmed Friday that the investigation into Tinsley’s death determined that he meant to take his own life.

“It was clear that it was indeed a suicide,” Tech. Sgt. Mikal R. Canfield said.

Tinsley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, according to a 3rd Wing news release.

“Investigators did not find a suicide note or any other indication this was pre-planned,” the news release said.

“The investigation did not reveal any financial troubles or other issues that indicate a motive or state of mind leading to his death.”

Autopsy and toxicology results showed alcohol in Tinsley’s system but were negative for other substances, the news release said.

The investigation into Tinsley’s death has not given his family any better understanding of what happened, according to a statement from the family that was included in the news release.

“Tom was the father that most only hope for and the husband that any of us would be privileged to have,” the family statement said. “To lose him as a leader is immense; to lose him as a husband, father, brother and son is immeasurable.”

Tinsley was also a “remarkable officer with a reputation for excellence,” said Gen. Carrol H. “Howie” Chandler, commander of Pacific Air Forces, also quoted in the news release.

“One of the many tragic aspects of this event is that we are unlikely to ever fully understand his actions that evening,” Chandler said.


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