GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — An intruder who deputies say was shot and killed by a homeowner during a break-in near Goldsboro early Saturday was a married father and an infantry veteran, sources say.
Jeremy Batson, 32, was shot during a struggle with a homeowner in Wayne County around 4:15 a.m. Saturday after the man and his family were awakened by an alarm at their Little River Drive home.
Batson, who was wearing a mask and dressed in all black, had a firearm with him during the home invasion and the homeowner fought back against Batson, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said.
During the fight, Batson was shot and died hours later, officials say.
Batson, who was an infantry sergeant in the U.S. Army and had been deployed to Afghanistan, had nightmares and appeared to suffer from PTSD, friends say.
“He seemed to distance himself a lot in the last few days. His service time in Afghanistan messed with his head,” friend Keith Chestnut told CBS North Carolina.
“He just could not get the help he needed to get rid of the nightmares he had,” Chestnut added.
Batson, who was a team leader in the 2nd Infantry Regiment, was promoted to sergeant while in Afghanistan, according to Chestnut.
(He was) “a hard-core soldier, very highly respected, decorated,” Chestnut said. “A take charge kind of guy and a team leader.”
Chestnut said that he talked with Batson earlier this month, but was stunned by the news of how he died.
“I would have never thought in a million years he would had done something like this,” Chestnut added.
Batson leaves behind a young daughter and a wife.
On Sunday, there were dozens of messages about Batson from friends and family on social media.
“God gained another angel , but while I wait to get to see you just one more time, this world and my heart will remain unchanged and my eyes filled with tears because one thing I didn’t get to tell you my friend is just how much I’ve loved you,” wrote Shonda Smith on Facebook.
Former military colleagues also were saddened by Batson’s death.
“It is with deep sorrow, I pass my condolences to his family, most especially to his young child,” wrote Johnson Starr, who served with Batson in Afghanistan. “I ask all to send up prayers/thoughts/love for this veteran’s family, for an honorable soldier, a deployment brother, and a father who will not see his child mature. My heart aches for his loss and ours. He was a good man, a loved son and friend to many.”
According to family members, Batson is being kept on life support so that he can donate organs.
“He will love to know that one of his kidneys will be going straight to Walter Reed to a veteran,” his wife, Rachel Millard wrote on Facebook.
Millard said that her husband admired veterans.
“Jeremy loved and admired veterans. He would always go out of his way to thank them and would usually go into a long conversation. As well as loving veterans, Jeremy also loved his military and contract brothers. He spoke about you guys on a daily basis,” Millard wrote.
“Every day he was either telling me a crazy story about you guys or telling me he needs to get up with one of you and see how you are doing. He thought and spoke of you guys often.”
The name of the homeowner involved in the incident was not released by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. No charges are expected in the shooting.