Neighbor: Accused VA shooter had problems at clinic before

Stephen Cometa believed he had PTSD

SUMMERFIELD, Fla. – A neighbor said accused Veterans Affairs clinic shooter Stephen Cometa had problems at the Villages VA Outpatient Clinic prior to Tuesday's incident, but he's not the mass shooter some are making him out to be.

Terri Jordan said Cometa isn't as "scary looking" as he appeared in his mugshot and that picture doesn't accurately depict the man she lived next door to for five years.

"Do I think he would have gone in with this intimidating face and done a mass shooting? I don't think so," Jordan said. 

FBI officials said Cometa came to the clinic in Summerfield Tuesday morning armed with an AM-15, a loaded 9 mm handgun, several additional loaded magazines and a video camera.

Cometa reportedly pointed an assault rifle at one of the doctors and told him "Now you're going to have to listen to me," according to a criminal complaint.

Two shots were fired as employees struggled to wrestle the gun away from Cometa, officials said. No one was shot.

Jordan called Cometa a "fanatic," saying he's had issues at the clinic before.

"Oh yeah, they asked him to leave. They told him not to come back, that he couldn't be serviced anymore because of his temper," Jordan said. "He's done that several times."

Jordan said those issued stemmed from Cometa believing he had PTSD from the four years he served in the U.S. Army. He also told Jordan and her husband that the VA clinic wasn't willing to help him.

Tuesday's shooting could have been a cry for help, Jordan said. She doesn't believe her church-going, patriotic neighbor would intentionally kill someone.

"I don't know what happened up there. I don't know if he pulled the trigger or if the gun went off, just what I know of Steve I just don't think that was his intent," Jordan said.

About the Author: