SPOKANE, Wash. - At Fairchild Air Force Base members of the community came together to remember the deadly shootings at the Fairchild hospital 20 years ago Friday that left four people dead and 19 injured.
The Friday afternoon service remembered the lives lost, but also the security forces officer who brought former airman Dean Mellberg's rampage to an end.
June 1994 was a dark month in Fairchild Air Force Base's history. On June 20, Mellberg, armed with a MAK-90 rifle and a 75-round magazine, entered the hospital and killed four people and wounded 19 others. Four days after the deadly shooting, while practicing for an upcoming airshow, a B-52 plummeted into the ground in a massive fireball, killing the four-man crew onboard.
Like many recent shootings at military installations, the shooting at Fairchild was triggered by Mellberg's mental health issues which ultimately resulted in his discharge from the service. Some of his first targets at the hospital were the doctors who thought he was too mentally ill to serve in the Air Force.
Even though he was honorably discharged. Mellberg came back to Fairchild to seek revenge against his psychologist but unfortunately, the shooting didn't stop there, Mellberg then went inside Fairchild's hospital and began randomly shooting patients, including an eight-year-old girl who died.
As Mellberg tried to make his escape, he was confronted by Security Forces officer SSGT Andy Brown, who had ridden his bike to the shooting scene.
"I could see him, he continued to fire, he was running toward me. He kept firing, I kept yelling at him to drop his weapon and he didn't, so I returned fire," Brown said.
He fired four shots from 70 yards away with his service pistol and shot and killed Mellberg.
Brown, who received the Airman's Medal for his actions from President Bill Clinton and later retired from the Air Force, spoke at Friday's service. There is little doubt that he saved a lot of lives that day because Mellberg still had 19 rounds in his magazine when Brown ended his rampage, but Brown wanted the crowd to remember Mellberg's victims as well as the others who helped saved lives that tragic day.
"My actions have been called heroic but there are many heroes among the patrons and the staff of the hospital that day. If not for their actions, the bloodshed would've been much greater.," Brown said.