MEDFORD, Ore.– It’s a day that he continues to relive. The confusion, the rage, the fear and the sound of a gunshot. For Gilbert Negrete, a father, it’s a painful memory.
In January, Negrete’s son, Gilbert “Matt” Negrete, went to the VA clinic in White City to receive treatment. While there, erratic behavior and brandishing a knife, Matt was shot and later imprisoned.
Now, Negrete is breaking his silence saying, if the system had worked, it wouldn’t have failed his son and he wouldn’t be behind bars.
“I tried to grab the knife and try to do something and then it just went crazy,” said Negrete.
Remembering that day becomes a story played out again and again in Negrete’s mind. His son, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, in need of help but instead shot at the VA.
Negrete says it was something he never thought would happen to his son – until it did.
“So, so paranoid it wasn’t even funny,” he said. “I mean, he was just out there. Thought everybody’s out to get him.”
Negrete encouraged his son to go to the VA, thinking it was the best place for him to get help for PTSD. While Matt was taking medications, the family hoped there would be other ways to help improve his health.
“We kept on thinking, ‘Man if we could just get him there, we can just get him there to that hospital. Boy, they’re gonna help him and everything is going to be great,'” said Negrete.
Unfortunately, as Negrete describes it, his son had run out of medication that day in January they drove to the hospital. He watched in horror as the situation unfolded out of control. It’s something he still regrets.
“The last thing I thought was that, was that was gonna happen or I would have never took him there obviously,” said Negrete. “Now I gotta live with the guilt I took him there, I took him there and they shot him.”
Negrete said one of the worst ironies was receiving his son’s medication in the mail the very next day.
But the hardest part was having to tell Matt’s children what happened.
“I have to tell his son about it. How do you tell your grandchild that?” he said. “How do you tell your wife, ‘Hun, your kid just got shot?'”
Now Matt faces the possibility of prison and Mr. Negrete is frustrated with the system he says let his son down.
“I mean, I know he’s not the only vet who gets like this so is that their policy? Is that how they handle this?”
Negrete is hoping in some way they can bring Matt home and get him the help he needs. He’s currently receiving medication in jail but it’s not a place that can help improve his son’s disorder.
“I just wish it hadn’t gotten to this you know,” he said. “I just really… you know?”
NBC5 News reached out to the VA to see if representatives could talk about this case or respond to Negrete’s complaints about how his son’s mental illness was handled.
We were told the VA has already released all the information it’s allowed to.
Matt Negrete’s next bail hearing is coming up soon. His bail is currently set at $265,000.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.