The former Marine accused of shooting a Hillsborough County deputy three times Friday night had post-traumatic stress disorder upon his return from Iraq, his uncle said Saturday.
"I know he had been going to the VA hospital quite a bit, and they'd been putting him off, putting him off," Bob Buendia said of his nephew, 24-year-old Matthew Lane Buendia of Carrollwood. "He'd been getting frustrated."
De Veaux, 35, was shot twice in the leg and once in the shoulder while responding to a domestic call at 10:22 p.m. at Matthew Buendia's apartment complex.
Bob Buendia said he was shocked when he learned of the arrest. He said such things aren't in his nephew's nature.
"He's always very easygoing, kind of being a more laughing, happy person," Bob Buendia said. "After he spent his tour in Iraq there was a difference, but I noticed that in my son and my grandson, also."
Bob Buendia said his nephew had been in the Marines and spent a few years in Iraq. He said Matthew Buendia made sergeant in a short period of time. Though his nephew wasn't injured in combat, he said, "A lot of his buddies were killed."
Matthew Buendia now is a project manager with Integral Quality Care in Tampa.
On Friday night, Buendia and his live-in girlfriend, Jessica Gipson, 28, got into a fight at their apartment at Inwood Park Apartments, 4747 W. Waters Ave., according to sheriff's officials. Buendia struck her; when she tried to get away, he tackled her from behind, records say.
He then punched her in the head and slammed her head on the ground, the records say. When she managed to pull free, he picked her up by the throat, choking her, but she managed to get away and tried calling 911, they say. Buendia slapped the phone out of her hand.
Responding to what was dispatched as a 911 hang-up call, De Veaux went to the apartment and met Gipson.
De Veaux had put Gipson in the back seat of her patrol car to speak with her when Buendia confronted the deputy, McKinnon said.
"As soon as she turned around the guy was there on top of her," the sheriff's spokesman said.
She told Buendia to back up. He raised his arms and took a couple steps backward before pulling a large-caliber pistol from beneath his shirt, deputies said.
De Veaux flinched and tried to spin back to increase her distance from her attacker, McKinnon said.
Without warning, Buendia fired several shots, striking De Veaux, who was wearing a Kevlar vest intended to deflect gunfire, McKinnon said. The areas where bullets hit her body were not protected by the vest.
"She was hit three times. There were at least three times that many rounds that were fired near her car," Sheriff David Gee said. "Essentially she was ambushed within 4 or 5 feet of her car at almost point-blank range.
"She did a really good job of being able to protect herself at the time and not take a more devastating hit than she did. She followed a really good training methodology, and I think that's what helped her survive."
De Veaux called for backup, which arrived within minutes.
Her colleagues heard her voice. They knew it wasn't good. De Veaux wasn't one to even use the radio that much, they said.
"I knew right then that … I knew she'd been shot because she's one that – she doesn't ever get on the radio,'' said Deputy Josh Lane. "I had quite a drive getting over there and the whole time …you've got silence because they're holding the radio to see if she's going to key up again and you don't hear anything.
"You're just going through the scenarios in your head and it's just terrifying," Lane said.
Meanwhile, Buendia barricaded himself in his apartment at the complex, Gee said.
More than 50 law enforcement officers came to the scene, including Tampa police and state troopers.
Deputies tried to contact Buendia but he didn't respond. So they "introduced chemical agents" into the apartment, Gee said.
Buendia still didn't respond.
Deputies used an explosive to blow off the door of the apartment at about 3:30 a.m. They said Buendia had weapons in the apartment, so they used a robot to find him. He was unconscious in the master bedroom, Gee said.
Buendia initially was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He was transported to the Hillsborough County Jail this afternoon.
Buendia was charged with domestic battery, domestic battery by strangulation, tampering with a witness, and attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
Buendia had no visible signs of injury, and during the early morning press conference authorities said they weren't sure why he was unconscious.
"Either he has done something to himself or he has some other issue," Gee said. "He was in there with gas for a long time, but I doubt it's from that."
Gipson was not injured from the shooting incident, though she was "bruised and battered" from an earlier encounter with Buendia, McKinnon said.
Neal Lester, who lives in the apartment complex, said he was shocked to learn of the shooting and said nothing like this has happened during the 2½ years he has lived there.
Lester went out to grab dinner prior to the shooting, and deputies wouldn't let him back inside while the incident was ongoing.
"I was just worried about my kids and my wife, just worried about if I was going to get back in there," Lester said.
There have been 129 officers killed in the line of duty this year in the United States, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The leading cause of death is gunfire (50). Florida has had 11 officers killed – second only to Texas.
Last year 160 officers were killed in the line of duty, including 59 by gunfire.
Five Tampa Bay area investigators have been fatally shot since 2010.