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Raging Killer Said a Vietnam Vet

May 1, 2000

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A Vietnam War veteran plagued by flashbacks left home in a rage before driving into Lake Michigan, killing himself and his granddaughter, near where a ceremony was held marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.

Murray Bernstein, a psychologist who counseled Christopher Tyler at the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said Sunday he could not speculate whether the lakefront ceremony aggravated Tyler’s state of mind.

The ceremony ``was supposed to be a healing effect,″ Bernstein said. ``But there’s a lot of people who just can’t let go of the war.″

Tyler, 47, had physical and mental health problems and had left his Milwaukee home in a rage Saturday afternoon, according to police and a medical examiner’s report. The child was identified as Tashiaunna Tyler.

``He was intending to go down to the lakefront for ceremonies commemorating the end of the war,″ said police Capt. Joseph M. Purpero.

The ceremonies had ended by the time witnesses saw Tyler speed through a boat storage area at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center and plunge into the lake.

Investigators said Tyler clutched his granddaughter to his chest, keeping her from would-be rescuers as the car sank into the lake. Both were pronounced dead at a hospital.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Tyler was disabled, unemployed and had had shrapnel removed from his feet within the past six months.

His wife, Janet, told investigators that he had been drinking and smoking marijuana, and that he was in a rage before he left home, talking about how society had been taken over by evil and that children were suffering.

For the past two years, Tyler was among eight to 12 war veterans whom Bernstein counseled weekly as a group for post-traumatic stress syndrome. Bernstein said Tyler was doing well but still suffered emotionally.

``It might’ve been that he just gave up,″ Bernstein said. ``I don’t know why he took his granddaughter.″

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