Reservist survived Iraq but not his return to civilian life

LAKE STEVENS — On the battlefields of Iraq, John LaBossiere’s gun became his security blanket, his father believes.

At 26, he’d already survived the 2003 invasion, and two more deployments to war zones in the Middle East.

He didn’t survive his re-entry to daily living, his father, Phil LaBossiere, of Lake Stevens, said Wednesday.

On Sunday night the Army reservist and former Marine was fatally shot during a confrontation with a Lake Stevens police officer, Phil LaBossiere said.

“We all loved him, and he did not understand that,” the father said. “He didn’t understand that anymore. Unfortunately, when life ends like that it’s too late to fix anything.”

Investigators found two handguns at the scene. John LaBossiere reportedly was carrying one weapon and a second firearm was found near him.

The shooting is being investigated by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team. The special group of homicide detectives attempt to independently investigate every time police use deadly force in the county.

Lake Stevens police responded to a 911 call that an armed man was reportedly forcing his way into a home.

Phil LaBossiere said his son’s wife was staying at the home. The couple, who recently separated, have three children, all under 5.

Messages on a MySpace account reflect the love the family shared, despite the distance that kept the young father from his family.

“You’re our HERO unlike the rest… When it comes to DADs your the BEST!” read one message, apparently posted on Father’s Day by his wife.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner said Wednesday that an autopsy had been completed but the results weren’t released pending scientific identification.

The officer, 23, is on paid administrative leave, in accordance with department policy. His name has not been released.

John LaBossiere graduated from Lake Stevens High School. He grew up loving the outdoors. He hiked, camped and fished with his father and brother.

The day after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, John LaBossiere told his father he wanted to follow both of his grandfathers’ footsteps and enlist in the military. During a fishing trip to Deception Pass, the young man told his father he planned to become a Marine.

“‘I guess if I need to I’ll join the service,’” LaBossiere’s father remembers his son saying. A few months later he left for boot camp in San Diego, Calif. From there, it was on to North Carolina for specialty training as a combat engineer. Then he was deployed to Iraq.

Friends and family were praying for him nonstop, Phil LaBossiere said.

“We were all proud of him and scared to death at the same time,” he said.

He left the Marines in 2006 and moved home to the Everett area. Months later he signed up with the Army National Guard.

It wasn’t long before John LaBossiere again was sent overseas, his father said.

“At no time was he ever saying he didn’t want to go,” Phil LaBossiere said. “His desire to serve his country was there.”

When he came back home from his third Iraq deployment, John LaBossiere’s life apparently unraveled. There were relationship problems, and he had trouble supporting his young family.

“There was a lot of stress, a lot of stress,” his father said.

His father said he’s now haunted by the possibility that war changed his son. He wishes somebody in the military had found a way to help.

As the police investigation continues into his son’s death, the father said he doesn’t harbor resentment.

“We feel no ill feelings towards the police officer,” he said.

John LaBossiere leaves behind his wife and three children, his parents and brother, Tim, who also is a former Marine.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hope Foursquare Church, 5002 Bickford Avenue, Snohomish.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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