We reached out to our channels in the Air Force to find out more about the tragic murder of Lt. Col. William A. Schroeder, 39, at Lackland Air Force Base a little over a week ago. Schroeder was commander of the 342nd Training Squadron at the 37th Training Wing at the base.
We spoke with a combat veteran who deployed to many locations in the Middle East and who knew Schroeder personally.
Here’s what he relayed to us.
The killer, Tech. Sgt. Steven D. Bellino, 41, was apparently an Army Special forces engineer sergeant (18 Charlie).
He served in the Army for 20 years, and had deployed to Iraq. After leaving the Army, he applied to join the FBI, and was with the agency for about 2 years. Bellino left the FBI after going through training when he was denied his acceptance to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team otherwise known as HRT.
It appears that Bellino had an ego about being the best and didn’t want to settle as a ‘regular’ FBI field agent. However, speculation is that he had psych issues and was the reason he was denied a spot on the FBI’s HRT.
At the age of 40, Bellino joined the Air Force, he was only allowed to do so by getting an age waiver since he was over the maximum age to join. He then began “PJ,” or pararescue training.
In the 6th week of a 10 week program Bellino failed a water endurance test. A requirement of the training is that when you fail to meet the set standard you fail the program completely, and it’s considered quitting. The trainee must the ring a bell and say “I quit”.
Belino didn’t like this, in fact he outright refused to do it. He felt it he was above the standard and didn’t need to follow the rules. In reality, the 20 year Army Green Beret just had his bubble burst for a second time, and probably felt like he deserved some special treatment.
Bellino started verbally chastising the commander. Schroeder responded by telling him, ‘Hold on, you’re accountable for your actions. Let’s think about what we did.’
However, the training to become a PJ is not taken lightly. Those men are the tip of spear in saving lives in the most adverse, hostile conditions. No corners can ever be cut in training.
Eventually Bellino gave, and on video said “I quit”. But he made a mockery of the system just to get to that point. Now the process to boot him from the Air Force would formally begin.
Belino knew he was done, so he went AWOL for a month, fleeing to Ohio. Some time had passed before he eventually turned himself in, and he was back in Texas at Lackland AFB.
Our source stated that when Bellino was back on base, he was telling young and impersonable Airmen trainees that their leadership was ruining their lives and brainwashing them. Our source stated that he came back from being AWOL with a clear agenda to cause mutiny and chaos for everyone.
“Bellino tried to shoot the 1st Sgt., he missed. Schroeder stepped forward, told his 1st Sgt. to get out of the room, she starts leaving, begins screaming “ACTIVE SHOOTER! ACTIVE SHOOTER IN THE ROOM! CALL 911, CALL 911!” A struggle ensued.”
Bellino realized he was about to be “Article 15’d.” That is “non-judicial punishment” which allows a commander to discipline troops without a court martial, however, Belino continued to play the Air Force and drag his feet opting for a long drawn out court martial.
None of this should ever even happened, Bellino should have been booted right then and there. The Security Police should have been called to detain him, and Bellino should have been served his discharge papers on the spot and escorted off base; done deal.
Unfortunately, with the Air Force’s ultra-weak, never offensive policies, Bellino was ultimately given a trial date for being AWOL where he could continue his pompous circus. After going through that entire process, he then fired his lawyer at the very last moment. He insisted that his lawyer was horrible and demanded that he be given a new lawyer and court date.
Bellino’s case was that of a Air Force Trainee who failed his training and then went AWOL. There should be no case, logic says get rid of him… he’s wasting taxpayer’s money!
Once again, the Air Force bowed down to Bellino’s demands, and with a crisp Air Force salute said “yes sir!”, and just like that another court date was set and he was given a new trial lawyer.
The charades of Bellino were buying him time to prepare and plan to murder his fellow Airmen, and we feel that the Air Force enabled it by continually allowing Bellino to control the entire situation, who was in charge here?
Our source believes this when he began planning the attack. He said that the “killing was premeditated. He knew what he was doing.”
On the day of the killing, Bellino brought 2 loaded Glocks, “enough ammo to kill everyone in the building,” He went into that building with intent to wipe out everyone.
Bellino was going to meet Lt. Col. Schroeder, apparently to be disciplined for being AWOL. Schroeder told his 1st Sgt. to bring him in (he didn’t know he had guns). Our source told us verbatim: “She called him in and was giving him nonverbal cues. Bellino started verbally chastising the commander. Schroeder responded by telling him, ‘Hold on, you’re accountable for your actions. Let’s think about what we did.’ Schroeder then saw the weapons he was hiding. Schroeder went to stop him.”
Our source continued: “Bellino tried to shoot the 1st Sgt., he missed. Schroeder stepped forward, told his 1st Sgt. to get out of the room, she starts leaving, begins screaming “ACTIVE SHOOTER! ACTIVE SHOOTER IN THE ROOM! CALL 911, CALL 911!” A struggle ensued.”
“They fought, Schroeder trying to grab the pistol Bellino had in his hand. Bellino murdered the commander. And most likely killed himself. We don’t truly know yet because the investigation isn’t clear. I’m assuming that (a) The commander shot him, or (b) Bellino shot himself.”
Schroeder was shot 4 times, 3 times in one arm, and once in the head. It was close-quarters combat, Schroeder fighting to neutralize the threat to him, and to the airmen & women who served under him.
“To be honest man, in that building, he had one… double stack Glock. That’s about 12 or 13 rounds. Technically he could have gone in there and killed 12 or 13 people.”
He reiterated that he believes Schroeder saved everyone in the office by fighting Bellino. He had enough ammo to take everyone out.
He spoke of the memorial which he attended:
“Today, at his memorial, he had almost 1800 people there. So, we had guys coming from Hurlburt Field, Pope, Panama City, our operational guys came in from New Mexico, Florida, all to pay tribute to him and his family. It’s been awesome, absolutely awesome.”
Our source continued:
“He even received an Airman’s Medal. He got an Airman’s Medal. Posthumously. Awesome, awesome. Received for his family, for sacrificing for himself, for everything he did on his own, cuz, the guy shot at the 1st Sgt.”
“There were people saying, like, he couldn’t talk his way out of it (being shot), or get him to calm down or anything like that. It had to be premeditated, planned, to go in there like, and murder.”
Schroeder was known for his ability to diffuse tense situations.
I spoke with an Air Force veteran who worked with Congress on Veteran Policies about the situation. He believes Obama’s weak military policies made it possible for Bellino to be in the position he was in. Bellino left the military joined the FBI and then quit because of possible psych problems, was allowed back into the system, and then it was nearly impossible to get him out.
Upon failing training, and declining a second chance, he developed an anti-military agenda. According to the Iraq War vet, and our source, the Air Force had been trying to get rid of Bellino for months because they knew he was a “bad apple.” Most people believe it was the new ultra liberal never offensive military policies that hamstrung the Air Force’s attempts to “boot” a person they knew was a problem. An Air Force commander is dead today because of it.
Lt. Col. William A. Schroeder was 39 years old and leaves behind a wife and two young boys.
He deployed on combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and several other countries.
Scenes from his memorial.