Dean Mellberg scared people.
Co-workers at a Fairchild Air Force Base laboratory joked he was the person most likely to return with a gun for revenge one day, “like some crazed postal worker.” When Mellberg qualified as an expert with an M-16, they joked again.
Mellberg himself laughed when co-workers joked about him coming back to shoot them - one of the few times he joined in the camaraderie of his workplace. When he asked them how hard it would be to purchase a gun, one co-worker answered - then immediately wished he could taken back his words.
That story and others are contained in more than 1,000 pages of interviews conducted by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations after his murderous rampage at the Fairchild hospital complex.
Those documents were obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the Freedom of Information Act.
They undermine the contention of a just-released Air Force Inspector General’s review that the June 20 rampage was not predictable.
Mellberg had a history of making violent threats or expressing violent fantasies, according to instructors, co-workers and friends.
He told his roommate at training school in Colorado that he might douse him with lighter fluid while he slept and set him afire.
“Shortly after I heard this story, Amn. Mellberg voiced a fascination with weapons,” Sgt. Douglas Wilder, a trainer at Lowry Air Force Base, said. He asked that the young trainee be psychoanalyzed, but investigators could not find any evidence that an evaluation occurred.
Mellberg repeated the lighter fluid threat to Erik Rayner, his roommate at Fairchild, after they had an argument. Rayner’s report of that threat helped spur his psychiatric evaluation at Fairchild.
Mental health experts at Fairchild who recommended his discharge were overruled. He was sent to Texas for evaluation and treatment.
While at Wilford Hall Medical Center near San Antonio, Mellberg began dating a woman stationed at the nearby air base. He often asked her if she thought about death or killing people.
“He joked about going out with ‘a big bang’ and ‘they would have to take him down,”’ said the woman, whose name was blacked out of reports to protect her privacy.
During his one-month stay at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, Mellberg’s behavior alarmed his supervisors and co-workers.
One lab worker at Cannon said she repeatedly told people that Mellberg would someday take an M-16 and kill them all. When Mellberg’s discharge allowed him to enter any base in the nation, she told a supervisor she feared he would return for revenge.
The supervisor said Mellberg had been barred from Cannon and the former airman was no longer their responsibility.
A few weeks later, the woman said she fell asleep on the her couch while watching television. She dreamed Mellberg went on a shooting spree at an air base and she was telling her coworkers, “I told you so.”
At the laboratory the next morning, her co-workers told her of the Fairchild massacre.
“My knees jellied when I realized it was the news report I heard while I was partially asleep, and was only dreaming the part when I said ‘I told you so,”’ she told investigators.
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