A Veteran in Crisis

Preston Thornton called the Veterans Crisis Line for help. When cops showed up, he ended up dead


A Veteran in Crisis

“Mama! Mama!” Preston Thornton yelled. “Mama! Someone’s in my car!” Thornton could’ve sworn he saw someone. He knew they were there. They had been following him and his family for years.

Just after four in the morning on August 2, 2017, Thornton’s mother, Natalie Wilson, laid asleep on the couch in her father’s low-slung, three-bedroom home on Banks Street in Coushatta, Louisiana, part of Red River Parish. She was visiting for a few days from Shreveport, an hour north. Thornton ran across the yard from the trailer where he was temporarily living, a salmon-colored single-wide in the backyard of his grandfather’s house, and jolted her awake. “Mama! Come on! They’re in my car!” he said in his soupy drawl, shaking her by the shoulders. “Let’s go!”

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