02/21/11 — Airman remains in critical condition

View Archive

Airman remains in critical condition

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 21, 2011 1:46 PM

A 4th Fighter Wing airman remained in critical condition this morning after a shooting at his home late Friday afternoon, a Pitt Memorial Hospital spokesman confirmed just before press time.

Cody Hendrickson, a 23-year-old member of the wing's Component Maintenance Squadron, was found at his apartment off Sandhill Drive, after what a source familiar with the crime scene characterized as a "suicide attempt."

The incident marks the fifth tragedy to hit Seymour Johnson Air Force Base since early October.

And like three of the four that preceded it, this latest tragedy was allegedly self-inflicted -- Senior Airman Ross Merrit Horton was found dead in his Wayne County home Oct. 4, Tech. Sgt. Robert Steven Newlon Jr. died Oct. 10 at his Pikeville residence and Tech Sgt. Joshua Grotke's body was discovered Nov. 29.

Air Force officials say all the incidents remain under investigation. No official acknowledgement of the cause of death in any of the cases has been issued.

The other incident occurred at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and spokesmen there will only say Tech. Sgt. Les Williams died in a "shooting incident" that was not combat-related.

No additional details on Hendrickson have been released by base officials.

Since the first two alleged suicides, 4th Commander Col. Patrick Doherty has said he and his leadership team are taking a pro-active approach to prevent further tragedies -- that suicide prevention is his top priority for 2011.

Some Seymour Johnson airmen have said that increased deployment cycles and pressures from other demands such as readiness exercises and inspections have taken their toll on Air Force personnel and their families.

Doherty has denied that the incidents have anything to do with the stresses of Air Force life.

The colonel stood the wing down Oct. 12 and has since created a task force meant to help at-risk airmen confront their problems.