TINKER AIR FORCE BASE – A recently divorced airman who served with distinction in Iraq chased his ex-wife out of military housing with a pistol before killing his two young children and himself.
Tinker Air Force Base officials on Wednesday identified Tech. Sgt. Dustin Thorson, a military computer expert, as the killer in the shootings Monday.
His former wife had filed an order of protection against him last year, saying he had threatened to kill 4-year-old Dylan and 9-year-old Jourdain if she filed for divorce.
Thorson had been under the care of a mental health professional, Brig. Gen. Lori Robinson said. She would not say whether his mental problems were related to stress from his crumbling marriage or his experiences in Iraq.
Armed with a 9 mm Ruger semiautomatic pistol and a stun gun, Thorson, 35, chased his ex-wife, Michelle Thorson, out of the house before shooting his children and committing suicide, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said.
The couple recently divorced after 11 years of marriage. The children lived at the house and the couple had an arrangement where the father would live there for four days, and then the mother would live there for four days, Whetsel said.
Dustin Thorson was finishing his four-day period Monday, and Michelle Thorson was arriving to start hers when the violence occurred.
A base spokesman said private guns are not allowed in base housing at Tinker, which is next to Oklahoma City. The base has an armory where service members can store such weapons, he said.
Robinson said the Air Force would do all it could to assist Michelle Thorson and her family as they deal with "unimaginable, devastating circumstances."
Robinson is the commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker, which is responsible for the Air Combat Command's fleet of E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. She said Thorson served in that wing's 752nd Computer Systems Squadron and was the noncommissioned officer in charge of airborne warning and control systems computer operations.
"He did what was asked of him every day and did it well," Robinson said.
Thorson, who entered the Air Force in 1993, served in Iraq in 2006 from July to October. He was awarded a Joint Commendation Medal, recognizing his service in working closely with Army teams searching out terrorists and areas where improvised explosive devices were made.
"I would do what they call sensitive site exploitation, which means I hacked into computers, cell phones and PDAs and tracked people on cell phones," Thorson told the Tinker Take Off, the base newspaper, in 2006.
Thorson also told the newspaper he had turned down opportunities to leave the Air Force. "I love being in the Air Force. I love being in the uniform," he said.