WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — October 13, 2021 is a day local law enforcement officials won’t forget anytime soon.
On that day, former United States Army Infantryman Anthony Michael Kienlen, 35, of Wichita Falls, entered into a stand-off that turned into a shootout with the Wichita Falls Police Department, the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
October 13, 2021 is a day the Kienlen family won’t forget either. Anthony has been behind bars since that date on a total of 16 charges and bonds totaling millions of dollars.
Originally, Kienlen was charged with 14 counts of Attempt To Commit Capital Murder of a Peace Officer.
However, earlier this week, when his family was attempting to bond him out, they learned of two new charges that had just been added.
Abigail Kienlen, Anthony’s wife, and Cindy Kienlen, Anthony’s mother, said right now, it’s not about guilt or innocence; rather, it’s about getting Anthony the mental health care he desperately needs.
During his time in service to our country, Kienlen spent 16 months in Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Cindy Kienlen said his job was to hunt down and kill insurgents.
“He was shot at every day and shot at people every day he was there in Afghanistan,” Cindy said.
When her son came back to the United States, Cindy said something was different.
“He just wasn’t the same, affectionate, kind, happy-go-lucky person,” Cindy said. “It was a total 180 in character when he came back.”
That’s because Kienlen is among the millions of combat veterans who suffer from a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder.
The condition affects an estimated 20 to 30 percent of combat veterans who served during Operation Enduring Freedom in any given year, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
So, like thousands of other veterans, Anthony began receiving regular treatment for PTSD and in the 14-plus years since his deployment, he’s been a model citizen.
“He did work in the community, he was a volunteer firefighter, he served at his church,” Anthony’s wife, Abigail, said of him. “He’s an amazing father, he’s a wonderful husband, there’s so much that so many people could say about him.”
“The ADA interviewed dozens of people, and they all said he’s a wonderful person,” Cindy said. “Ya know, he’s a good guy.”
But, Anthony felt like something was off. In the days leading up to October 13, 2021, he couldn’t shake that feeling.
“Right before the incident, he knew he was in crisis, and he reached out for help, but it didn’t come in time,” Cindy said.
What followed was a 90-minute standoff and shootout at the Kienlen residence on Turkey Ranch Road.
Law enforcement officials, including Wichita County Sheriff David Duke, said at the time, that they didn’t think PTSD had anything to do with the incident.
Duke at a point alleged Kienlen had been unhappy at home, a point later echoed by prosecutors in one of Kienlen’s recent bond hearings. Duke also said he may have had a problem with the police altogether.
However, given Kienlen’s combat history, his history of seeking treatment, and his claims of wanting to commit suicide by police, Kienlen’s family maintains that on October 13, 2021, Anthony experienced a mental health crisis.
“This is not like him. It’s not,” Cindy said. “He’s never had a criminal history. Ever. He was trying to kill himself that day.”
Since then, Anthony’s been behind bars while his family attempts to get him access to mental health care. His wife Abigail said it’s been nothing short of an uphill battle.
“No one is releasing him or working with us to help get him released to go to that in-patient facility that the V.A. is suggesting,” Abigail said. “We had the money to put together to bond him out. And, within two hours of the bond process beginning, he had two new attempted capital murder charges.”
Those charges were two more Attempted Capital Murder of a Peace Officer charges, one against the sheriff himself. Abigail said there’s a conflict of interests with the person who controls when and how he’s charged is an alleged victim.
“The people who are holding him in there are the same people he’s accused of attempting to harm,” Abigail said.
Kienlen now faces 18 charges and an additional $1 million in bonds. But, Abigail said it’s not a matter of her husband’s guilt or innocence.
“Anthony will have his day in court and he will have to face what he’s being accused of doing, but we’re not to that point,” Abigail said. “We’re not saying that this should all be swept under the rug by any means. What we’re saying is he should be allowed treatment that he’s been denied for the past nine-plus months.”