SAN ANTONIO — The son of a Mineral Point couple was killed in what U.S. Air Force officials are calling a murder–suicide Friday morning.
Air Force Lt. Col. William A. “Bill” Schroeder, 39, was the commander of the 37th Training Wing’s 342nd Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland.
According to the Air Force Times, which quoted a federal official close to the investigation, Schroeder was shot to death by Air Force Technical Sgt. Steven D. Bellino, 41, who then killed himself Friday around 8:45 a.m.
The San Antonio Express–News reported that Bellino was being escorted to a disciplinary hearing by a female first sergeant when Bellino produced two handguns and opened fire on Schroeder in the base’s Medina Annex Forbes Hall. Bellino, from Parma Heights, Ohio, was a pararescue student in Schroeder’s squadron, according to the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader and the Air Force Times.
The Express–News reported that Bellino had been AWOL after before being returned to Lackland. Bellino had reported to Forbes Hall claiming to be accepting nonjudicial punishment after failing a water endurance test and leaving the base for Ohio, where he was taken into custody.
Schroeder and Bellino were found dead by Bexar County sheriff’s deputies.
The Express–News quoted a social media post from Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Nugent that Schroeder “went out swinging. He selflessly gave his life to protect our [first sergeant] and countless others who were in the building.”
The shooting took place as a basic military training parade with up to 5,000 spectators was about to begin, the Express–News reported. The parade participants were evacuated to a nearby building until the base lockdown was lifted around 10:30 a.m.
Schroeder is the son of Allen and Susan Schroeder of Mineral Point. Allen Schroeder is the director of the Stonefield Historic Site in Cassville.
Kathy Kopp, executive director of the Platteville Regional Chamber, said the Schroeders went to San Antonio Monday to meet with authorities and make funeral arrangements. Bill Schroeder will receive a military funeral Friday and be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Kopp said.
Kopp said Allen Schroeder “has been very influential on the Grant County Tourism Council. It’s just devastating.”
KSAT-TV in San Antonio reported that Schroeder’s family issued a statement Monday morning that read: “First and foremost please understand that our family is mourning the loss of my loving husband and wonderful father to our two children. We ask that you please respect our need to grieve privately during this extremely difficult time. Your thoughts, prayers and understanding are very much needed and appreciated.”
“The 37th Training Wing mourns the loss of our airmen and family members,” said Brig. Gen. Trent Edwards, commander of the 37th Training Wing, in a news release. “Our primary focus at this time is to take care of the family and the men and women who are grieving our losses. A tragedy of this type is felt by each and every member, but we will pull together to help our own.”
In a post on the 37th Training Wing’s Facebook page, Edwards said he “worked closely with Lt Col Schroeder; and my wife Vanessa and I knew his family. He was an amazing Airman, father and husband. Our focus at this time is to take care of Lt Col Schroeder’s family who is here in the local area. He leaves behind a wife and two small children — we will care for and comfort them as best we can. We will also take care of the family members and friends who are grieving the loss of TSgt Bellino.”
The Express–News quoted Maj. Jonathan Sawtelle, Schroeder’s director of operations at his previous Air Force job, the 10th Combat Weather Squadron, as saying he “always did the right thing the right way — especially when it was a tough decision. Bill was patient, never vindictive, slow to anger.”
The Express–News quoted Chief Master Sgt. Shane Wagner, Schroeder’s chief enlisted manager at the weather squadron, as saying Schroeder “cared about his people more than anything else. Everything he did was focused around the airmen. He was someone you could count to do be there when you needed him. He would never say no when you needed help. … As an enlisted person, there are very few people that I would follow anywhere.”
Kopp said Bill Schroeder’s wife, Abby, is a Wisconsin native. Bill Schroeder graduated from high school in Vermillion, S.D., and Iowa State University in meteorology, according to the Argus Leader. Bill and Abby Schroeder have two sons.
Schroeder had earned a Bronze Star, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and three Meritorious Service Medals, according to the Air Force Times.
Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland is made up of four military installations, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. It is the U.S. Defense Department’s largest installation, with more than 8,000 personnel on site, and supports a population of 80,000 and up to 138,000 students. Air Force enlisted basic military training is conducted at Lackland.
The TACP Association, which honors the memory of fallen Tactical Air Control Party airmen, has set up a memorial fund for Schroeder, who was not a TACP, but who oversaw training for airmen.
The fund is at Fundly.com, with a goal of $75,000. As of Tuesday morning the fund, at https://fundly.com/lt-col-bill-schroeder-memorial-fund#home, had raised more than $54,000 of its $75,000 goal.