By L.P. Phillips for 1080 KRLD

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WAXAHACHIE (1080 KRLD) – The uncle of an Austin man, accused in a bizarre standoff at a Waxahachie Hospital, says 32-year-old Lorenzo Zarate is no ordinary man.  He claims the U.S. Army veteran took part in the capture of Saddam Hussein.

“He was there, it was his platoon.” said Paul Zarate.

What happened Saturday evening at the Baylor Scott and White Medical Center at Waxahachie still has police puzzled.

Reports say Zarate walked into the emergency room with a gun held to his infant daughter.  He surrendered the child to hospital workers.  An hour later, police were able to negotiate a surrender.  No shots were fired.

Paul Zarate has a theory about what happened.  He says Lorenzo Zarate suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a condition that surfaced after his return from Iraq.

“What he did, right there, was so out of character for him that I know that this is is a big, big deal with this post traumatic syndrom.” he said.

Zarate says his nephew joined the army and went to Iraq looking for adventure, ignoring warnings that war changes a person.  Zarate says the reality and horrors of war hit fast and hit hard when Lorenzo picked-off a gunman from a long distance.  The sniper, it ends up, was a woman.

Then came December of 2003.

Zarate says Lorenzo Zarate was with the 4th Infantry Division, the first team into Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.  He says Lorenzo Zarate was the driver of the first Humvee to enter the city.  It was on December 13th that Hussein was found in a tunnel under a farmhouse.  Paul Zarate says his nephew was there.

The United States Army can confirm that Zarate was a member of the 4th Infantry Division and was in Iraq at the time.  But a spokeswoman for CENTCOM says the records of the servicemen involved in the capture of Hussein are in the National Archive and not immediately available.  Zarate’s presence when Hussein was captured cannot be disputed or confirmed.

A picture from the New York Times from 2008 shows Zarate holding a gun on one of Hussein’s body guards.

“He was there,” said Paul Zarate.  “It was his platoon.”

As for the incident Saturday, the older Zarate says it fits Lorenzo Zarate’s character since returning.  He says Zarate cannot sleep well, due to flashbacks to his tours of combat.  And the actions in the emergency room show a combat soldier’s thinking, cool, calculating, but the total opposite of how a rational person would act.

“He’s lost site of what is there.  You see a person do that to his daughters.  My nephew loves his daughters.  He loves them very much.

Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson, in an e-mail, said he knew nothing of Zarate or his past.

Zarate is being held on $200,000 bond for charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, making a terroristic threats, and taking or attempting to take a weapon from a peace officer.

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