Folks living near Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs can be forgiven for wondering if they'd awakened in the middle of a firefight. Suddenly, the night exploded with the sound of gunfire. Maybe a hundred rounds' worth. Probably more.
The man behind the trigger turned out to be Brandon Bougades, a twice-wounded veteran from Afghanistan who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
But he insists his PTSD didn't inspire the fusillade.
At around 2:58 a.m. on Monday morning, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department, officers were dispatched to the first block of Las Piedras Escondidas on reports of shots fired.
The cops quickly cleared the area without finding the shooter -- but they'd get another chance. Just shy of 4 a.m., more calls about gunfire came in, and this time, the officers heard the shots, which seemed to be coming from the south side of Garden of the Gods Park. There were a lot of them (between 100 and 150, by their estimate), and they were close -- so close that several rounds appeared to ricochet off rock formations in their direction.
By then, the officers were ready for battle: The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that they were outfitted in body armor and carried assault rifles. But they didn't have to engage the enemy. A short time later, they saw a man later ID'd as Bougades walking from the area where the gunfire had erupted. He was taken into custody without incident, even though he'd been well-armed. His arsenal consisted of a semi-automatic handgun and a pump-action shotgun.
Bougades knew his way around such weaponry, as is clear from photos on his Facebook page. He is an Army veteran who is in the final stages of medical retirement after being wounded in Afghanistan by what the Gazette describes as multiple bomb blasts. One Facebook shot shows him perching over a roadside crater:
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Here's another pic of what are likely his comrades in arms.... ...while another catches him in repose: Additional images on the page vacillate between deep patriotism.... ...and ribald humor: The cops didn't throw the book at Bougades for his late-night escapade, only ticketing him for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. And when the Gazette caught up with him, he was apologetic. He admitted to grappling with PTSD and dealing with intermittent bouts of depression, but he told the paper that on early Monday, he'd simply had the urge to go shooting and thought he was allowed to do so in an undeveloped area. He calls the incident a big mistake on his part.
The people he awakened, some of whom reportedly hit the floor when they heard the shots, would no doubt agree.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Marijuana: Jeremy Usher, Navy vet, could go to jail for treating his PTSD with cannabis."