Marine court-martialed for abusing prisoners in Iraq, goes mental with gun in neighborhood at home

A troubled Marine vet, suffering from PTSD, is behind bars after he allegedly terrorized residents in a Nevada neighborhood for weeks, forcing some to leave their homes out of fear.

Some residents in the Las Vegas community told KTNV that Walter Laak was acting erratically for weeks – waving his gun and putting out speakers, blasting loud music during all hours of the night.  They also said, he would get drunk and smash beer bottles and throw them at their homes and cars.

He was eventually arrested 30 miles away after trying to run over a pastor. According to the Review Journal, Laak punched Andres Charry-Arana on Sept. 14 in a random attack. The attack happened in an apartment complex parking lot, as the pastor sat in his car talking on his cell phone. The arrest report indicates that Laak put his Toyota sedan in reverse and tried to run Arana over, then later fired several shots into his residence.

Laak is facing multiple charges including: battery with a deadly weapon, attempted murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied structure.

Laak, an Iraq war veteran, made headlines in 2008 when he was tried for the shooting death of 19-year-old Juan Cordova. Laak had apparently been trying to “keep the peace” when Cordova and two other men were “menacing partygoers.” He was acquitted in that case, but his troubles continued.  In 2009, Laak was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault with a deadly weapon and one count of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an alleged rape.

According to the Torture Database, Laak was court-martialed in 2003 at Camp Pendleton for abusing detainees. His punishment was confinement for 120 days. Laak was discharged from the Marine Corps with a reduction to pay grade E-1.

While he was with 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Laak was on EPW (enemy prisoner of war) watch, according to the court-martial records. He was charged with violating UCMJ Articles 92 and 93, as well as article 128. While deployed in Iraq, Laak was given an order not to torture enemy prisoners of war, but sometime in June 2003, he violated that order by “striking the prisoners of war with his fists on various parts of their bodies.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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