Timothy Short was arrested in Great Falls on Tuesday and and is facing a felony charge of assault with a weapon. The incident happened at a home along Central Avenue, with Short eventually barricading himself inside with weapons, according to several news reports.
As some people have speculated, Short is a military combat veteran, and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I have received information from a very reliable source that Short had been living in Oregon and things got a bit rough for him, so he moved to Great Falls to live with a relative and focus on getting better with a “fresh start” – and he was doing much better for a while.
But several events happened in quick succession that caused Short to basically relapse recently (cancer diagnosis for a family member, break-up with girlfriend), and he began drinking and engaging in self-destructive behavior, including holding an unloaded gun to his head on at least one occasion.
His relative (along with at least one friend) immediately noticed the signs, and took action to try to help Short – including removing all alcohol from the house, and securing all of the guns in a location where Short could not get to them. They were working on staging an intervention.
Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that Short had a gun hidden in his own car, and when he realized what was happening, he got mad, retrieved the gun from his car, and threatened the people who were trying to help him.
The situation escalated, the police were called, and it resulted in the stand-off with the GFPD on Tuesday. Fortunately, the situation ended peacefully, thanks to the professionalism and training of our law-enforcement officers.
I am not relaying this information in an effort to downplay the danger, or to mitigate Short’s actions, or to minimize the effect this had on the neighborhood and the entire community. It was scary for everyone involved – for Short, his loved ones, the neighbors, and the responding officers.
I am sharing this to provide some insight into how and why it happened. This wasn’t a case of (for example) a methed-up criminal trying to escape being arrested on a felony warrant, it wasn’t a crazed psycho who wanted to shoot up a school, and it wasn’t a bank robber on the lam threatening to take out everyone who got in his way, etc.
This was a wounded, confused person who behaved very badly and scared the heck out of many people.
Short should and will face consequences for his actions, and hopefully will also receive appropriate treatment for his PTSD and other underlying issues.
Again – I am not defending what he did, nor trying to excuse it, and neither are his loved ones. This is only an attempt to provide some information about how and why it happened, and to point out that it is not uncommon for PTSD-afflicted military veterans to fall into this kind of bad situation. This is an example of one of the reasons that Veterans Treatment Courts have been created, including the one here in Great Falls.
I am grateful that Short has people in his life who care about him and were and are trying to help him, and grateful also that our responding officers were able to defuse the situation peacefully.
If you – or a loved one or friend – is experiencing PTSD or feeling suicidal, please GET HELP. There are many, many resources and people whose primary goal is to help people in these situations, and to help prevent them from happening. Here are a few resources:
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