The Fort Hood soldier who shot himself following a police pursuit in rural Bell County on Thursday was a decorated active-duty master sergeant and combat engineer who served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to post officials.
Master Sgt. Alva Joe Gwinn, 39, was in the 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Hood before he died of a self-inflicted gunshot after being shot by a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy following a high-speed vehicular pursuit northbound on State Highway 195 from Florence.
Gwinn was assigned to Fort Hood in 2012 and had entered active-duty military service in 1999, according to a Fort Hood news release.
Officials say Gwinn deployed on four tours of duty in Afghanistan from January to August 2003, from April to December 2004, from March 2010 to March 2011 and from March to November 2013.
Gwinn also deployed once to Iraq from November 2005 to November 2006.
Post officials said Gwinn’s home of record was listed as Richwood, West Virginia.
Gwinn’s awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, seven Army Achievement Medals, five Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, five Overseas Service Ribbons, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Parachute Badge, Driver and Mechanics Badge, Marine Qualification Badge Expert-Rifle and Sapper Badge.
Gwinn had been facing a Nov. 6 court date on a 2012 charge of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, according to news reports.
Gwinn was indicted by a Bell County grand jury in August 2016 after the Bell County Special Crimes Unit investigator watched a recorded forensic interview of the female accuser at a Children’s Advocacy Center in Idaho.
The girl, who was living in another state, said in November 2012 Gwinn held her down and sexually assaulted her at a Killeen residence, according to the FME News Service.
Gwinn was stationed overseas before his arrest and returned to Fort Hood in March 2016. At that time, Gwinn was interviewed by investigators.
In May, Gwinn reportedly barricaded himself in a Killeen residence and threatened to shoot himself if the investigation wasn’t stopped.
However, he eventually surrendered to Killeen police officers and was taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood to be evaluated.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. David Roberts said Gwinn had attempted to flee a traffic stop on State Highway 195 north of Florence on Thursday.
During the chase, his vehicle was disabled and he fled on foot.
Gwinn then pointed a handgun at officers, who responded by shooting him because of the threat, according to a news release from Roberts. Gwinn then shot himself in the head, the release said.
On Thursday, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department said the situation began when Fort Hood officials called the sheriff’s office for a “welfare check” on a man in the Florence area.
Officers were given a vehicle description, and informed the man was involved in a domestic disturbance call the night before.
The incident remains under investigation by the Texas Rangers.