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Soldier and veteran found dead at Fort Bragg had longtime ties to the base

Master Sgt. William J. Lavigne II, 37, was one of two men found dead Dec. 2, 2020, in a training area on Fort Bragg, N.C., the Army said in a statement.

U.S. ARMY

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 4, 2020

This story has been updated.

Two men connected to the special operations community were found dead on an Army post in North Carolina where both had served for years — one a soldier in an elite unit and the other a veteran.

Master Sgt. William J. Lavigne II, 37, with U.S. Army Special Operations Command's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and Timothy Dumas, 44, an Army veteran from Pinehurst, N.C., were found Wednesday in a training area on Fort Bragg, near Fayetteville.

The Army has given few details about the circumstance of their deaths but has said they were not related to official training. Foul play is suspected and they may have been involved in criminal activity at the time of their deaths, unnamed military officials told some news outlets.

Lavigne had spent about a dozen of his 19 years in the service assigned to Special Forces and USASOC, the command said in a statement Friday.

"The loss of a soldier is always tragic," said Lt. Col. Justin Duvall, the soldier's company commander.

Fort Bragg identified Dumas in a separate statement. A former chief warrant officer 3 and property book officer, he served from November 1996 to March 2016, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon said. He was assigned to Fort Bragg for nearly all that time, a LinkedIn account showed.

The post is home to USASOC, as well as the XVIII Airborne Corps, Army Forces Command, 82nd Airborne Division and the Army Reserve Command. More than 30 soldiers assigned to the base have died this year, about half by suicide.

No more information about the deaths of Lavigne and Dumas will be released while the Army Criminal Investigative Command investigates, USASOC said.

CID did not respond to a request for comment Friday, but an unnamed defense official told ABC News that foul play was suspected.

The two men may have been involved in criminal activity, a defense official familiar with the incident told The Washington Post, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter still under investigation.

Lavigne had been investigated in the 2018 death Sgt. 1st Class Mark Leshikar, 33, USASOC confirmed in an email. A member of the National Guard’s 19th Special Forces Group, Leshikar was fatally shot in Fayetteville on March 21 of that year.

Leshikar’s sister, Nicole Rick, told Connecting Vets on Friday that Lavigne and her brother were close friends, but had gotten into an altercation that night. Lavigne locked Leshikar out of the house, but his young daughter unlocked the door. When Leshikar came into the home, he and Lavigne had a confrontation that ended with the shooting. Lavigne told Rick that her brother had a screwdriver, she said, but she claimed nothing was found at the scene and “no real investigation was ever held.”

A sergeant with the Cumberland County Homicide Unit investigated the death, said Lt. Sean Swainn, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s office. An incident report on the sheriff’s website lists it as a justifiable homicide, but in response to an email seeking further details, Swainn offered little more information and directed Stars and Stripes to a statement the sheriff issued the day after the shooting, which said no charges had been filed.

A senior defense official told ABC News in late March 2018 that the shooter was an active-duty member of a Special Missions Unit, known as Delta Force. Rick said Lavigne was also in Delta Force.

“Master Sgt. Lavigne dedicated himself to the Army for 19 years and deployed multiple times in the defense of our nation,” Duvall said.

Lavigne enlisted in the Army in 2001 and graduated the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2007, after which he was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), then to USASOC, the command said.

He deployed several times to Afghanistan and Iraq, the command said, though it did not provide an exact number.

Dumas had deployed to Afghanistan four times, according to a service history Army spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Hewitt provided via email. Hewitt declined to provide further information about what unit Dumas had served with at the end of his career.

Beginning in 2001, Dumas served as a property book officer with the 7th Special Forces Group, his LinkedIn account shows. It’s unclear if he remained at the command throughout the remainder of his career.

He earned numerous awards and decorations during his service, including a Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, a parachutist badge and a driver and mechanic badge.

Lavigne was a graduate of the Army Airborne and jump master courses, and the Military Free Fall Parachutist and jump master courses, as well as the Special Forces Intelligence Course; survival, evasion, resistance and escape school; and a special operations language course in Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines.

His awards and decorations include two Bronze Star medals, one with a “V” device for valor, the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Army Commendation medals, three Army Achievement medals, a Joint Service Achievement Medal and five Army Good Conduct medals. He had also earned a Combat Infantry Badge and Combat Action Badge.

“Our condolences go out to his family during this difficult time,” Duvall said.

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland