Family member of Waxahachie hostage suspect blames PTSD for incident

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A family member of Lorenzo Zarate, the man police say walked into a Waxahachie ER waiting room Saturday night and threatened to hurt his two children, is blaming PTSD for his relative’s actions.

Zarate is in the Ellis County jail on $200,000 bond, facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, terroristic threats, placing the public in fear of serious injury and attempting to take a weapon from an officer.

Sunday, a man claiming to be his uncle, posted about Zarate and the incident on Facebook, saying, in part, "My boy fought and served America in its time of need. He needs America to understand PTSD. It's real".

Zarate is an Iraq War veteran from Austin, featured in several news publications in 2008 -- the year he came home from serving in Iraq.

Waxahachie Police say Zarate carried both a baby and a gun into the Baylor Scott & White ER waiting room Saturday night before 7:00 P.M. with another child by his side.

Chad Austin was in that waiting room, and says he made eye contact with Zarate, "When I saw him, he wasn't belligerent. He wasn't going crazy. He wasn't waving the gun around. It was just real calm." said Austin, "I didn't feel threatened or scared for my life".

Police say Zarate told everyone in the waiting room to clear out. Austin, and some other families were forced to go to another hospital, as Baylor Scott & White went on lockdown.

Officers and a security guard talked to Zarate to calm him down.

"(He) had a gun held to one of the children and it didn't take too long before he gave up the children and held the gun to himself,” said Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby.

Zarate surrendered soon after that and was taken into police custody.

Fox 4 has contacted the man claiming to be Zarate’s uncle for comment, but has not heard back.