As police intensified their search for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, shooting spree suspect Bradley Stone, Marines who served with him described the man as an odd person who had well-known troubles with his now slain ex-wife.
“Honestly, you can say anyone’s crazy, but you wouldn’t think that they’d go and kill their family,” Adam Perone said Monday night as he tried to make sense of the six person killing spree law enforcement accused his former sergeant of carrying out.
The 27-year-old served under Stone’s command in the 3rd Battalion 14th Marine regiment based out of Northeast Philadelphia. The two spent more than a year working together before being deployed to different parts of Iraq in 2008.
“It’s just horrific. Completely horrific,” he said.
Joe, a fellow Marine who asked that his last name not be used, remembers Stone as a quiet man who didn’t mesh well with others.
“He was a younger Marine and very quiet and quite frankly a little odd,” said Joe, a higher-ranking officer in the regiment. “The common theme was always that he was a little out there.”
Stone joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in October 2002, according to military records. He enjoyed the job, Perone said.
“I think the Marine Corps was everything for him. It gave him something to hang his hat on. I guess he liked that role of leadership,” Perone said.
Stone’s time in the service was not always smooth.
In April 2008, the Artillery Meteorological Man — someone who assists with military fire accuracy — began a tour in Ramadi, Iraq and returned home just two months later after health issues cropped up with his wife, Nicole Hill Stone, the men said.
While they were home, Stone would regularly discuss the tumultuous relationship with his wife, Perone said.
“He would openly talk about it. He always talking about how she was crazy and they were going through divorce at that time,” the Marine said. “He was so defeated at that time. He was broke. A lot of his money is going toward that.”
The turbulent relationship turned deadly Monday, police said, when Stone allegedly shot and killed his ex-wife, her mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and niece, and critically wounded her nephew in a shooting spree that spanned three towns across Montgomery County.
Perone said years went by without him seeing Stone until 2011 when the 35-year-old re-enlisted. Stone wasn’t the same man though, according to Perone. He would talk about having troubles with post-traumatic stress disorder and the medication prescribed by doctors with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for it, he said.
“The lasting image in my head is when he came back and talked about the VA doctors and prescriptions. You know someone long enough, you can tell that there was a difference,” Perone said. “He had a new girlfriend, but obviously he was still very stressed with the situation with his ex-wife.”
Stone missed two other tours of duty, according to Perone, and within a few months he would just disappear. Fellow Marines made attempts to contact him, but they went unreturned. Marine Corps records show he was discharged in May 2011.
While Stone talked about having PTSD, his fellow Marines raised questions about whether the man actually suffered from the disorder. They cited his short tour of duty and apparent lack of combat action as reasons.
“I don’t think he necessarily had PTSD,” Perone said. “It affects everyone differently, though.”
Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.