Man accused of killing deputy needed long-term treatment but refused, veterans center says

SWAT team members were going door to door on Saturday as the search continued for Patrick McDowell, who is accused of shooting a Nassau County deputy during a traffic stop on Friday morning. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An advisor at a Jacksonville veterans treatment center said Patrick McDowell, the man accused of killing a Nassau County deputy during a traffic stop, has received treatment twice since 2020 but left the center before it was completed.

Major Teddy Colegate, a resident advisor at 5 STAR Veterans Center, told News4Jax that McDowell was first a short-term resident from March 2020 to April 2020 before he chose to leave the center without notification.

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Colegate said nothing was heard from him until May 26 of this year when he returned to the center through a referral from Veterans Treatment Court. He stayed until early July.

“He left the center at the beginning of July 2021 as he was non-compliant with our program. We have had no contact with him since,” Colegate said. “Patrick was a Marine Combat veteran who needed long-term care. He was not willing to accept the help offered by 5 STAR Veterans Center.”

A statement to News4Jax from the father of McDowell, who was arrested Tuesday following a five-day search outside Callahan, detailed the mental health struggles of his son leading up to his murder accusation.

“I want to explain a few things about Patrick but please don’t think I’m making excuses for him or trying to rationalize his actions. After Patrick returned from Iraq he enrolled and sought help from the VA for depression, headaches, and nightmares. He was diagnosed with PTSD and depression and some physical infirmities. At first, he was motivated to deal with his demons and started a family. As time progressed, he slipped into a darker place. He had trouble with seizures, pain management, and sleep patterns. He turned to drugs and quit going to his VA appointments,” Richard McDowell wrote.

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He said the lack of supervision McDowell received during COVID-19 lockdowns had a negative effect on him.

“Apparently, this happened at a critical time in his treatment, and he immediately slipped back into his old habits and was arrested in Ga. He was in the Ga jail for a year (and still hasn’t had a trial because of Covid). After a year he came back to Jacksonville and was again generously accepted by the Lovings at 5 Star. You could see the spark had gone out of him and despite our many efforts he slipped over the edge and did this horrible thing,” Richard McDowell wrote.

According to its website, 5 STAR Veterans Centers’ 12-month on-site program has proven successful in helping veterans rejoin our community.

“We provide safe housing, a full complement of health and wellness services, reunite veterans with their families, and help with education and job preparedness,” the website states.

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