Fellow veterans wonder what happened to Marine accused of stabbing officer

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After being accused of stabbing an officer, word of Christopher Roby's arrest spread quickly, especially through the veteran community.

"I was like, 'This isn't Roby, so what happened?'" said Nick Donaldson, a Marine, over the phone.

Donaldson did two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan with Roby.

"When I knew him, he was clean-cut, smart as a whip, did what he needed to do, and is just an overall great guy," Donaldson said.

Which is why he was shocked by Roby's arrest and his appearance in his mugshot.

"It broke my heart more than anything because I wondered how alone he had to have felt going through this process and then it gets escalated to this point."

Police say Roby's mom called 911 Tuesday evening, saying he was armed and acting erratically.

Charging documents say he threw objects at police and stabbed an officer twice.

Police said in an affidavit they later found what seemed to be homemade pipe bombs in the house and think one Roby threw at officers didn't detonate because it landed wrong.

Roby's been charged with 11 counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Donaldson says he's thankful for the officers who responded to the incident and for the Crisis Intervention Team.

He's happy everyone's going to be okay but thinks this shows why there should be a national conversation about mental health.

"We really have to take ahold of this like the opiate crisis because if we let any of this mental illness fly by on their veterans, then what are we going to do to other people, like our kids?" said Donaldson.

He said veterans often struggle to adjust back to society and are judged while doing so.

"When they get home, family doesn’t understand what they went through and they’re trying to, but the veterans feel like they’re being called crazy by society and the family’s like, 'Hey, we don’t know what’s going on,' and then the guy can feel like, 'I feel like a useless person now, I was most loved and now I’m hated.'"

Donaldson wants the public and elected officials to understand the importance of providing help to them the second they return home.

"It just gets to a spiral of downward effect," said Donaldson. "I’ve gone through that and a lot of veterans and that’s the sad part is we’re allowing them to say, 'Hey, wait three months for medical help, wait even a year for mental health,' -- that should be almost criminal in itself."

He's not justifying Roby`s actions but suggesting it's time to attack the root of the problem to keep anything like this from happening again.

"A lot of the veterans like Roby, they get in a combat situation and then there's a bomb that goes off, and it shakes their brain around like a wash bucket," Donaldson said. "We can either vilify Roby somehow or we can try to get Roby, say hey, 'Roby hit a speedbump in life, and for whatever the case may be, we must try to understand this and try to correct this best.'"

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