Travis King, the 23-year-old American soldier who crossed the border into North Korea “willfully and without authorization” on Tuesday was “breaking down” after the tragic death of his 7-year-old cousin earlier this year , the King’s uncle. said The Daily Beast.
Carl Gates, the brother of the King’s mother, said in a phone interview Wednesday that he was one of the last people to communicate with the King on the phone before he defected to North Korea.
“His mother came down a few times, and then she spoke to him and told him what was going on with my son. And he seemed to be breaking down. It really affected Travis,” Gates told The Daily Beast. “Because he couldn’t be here. He was in the army, overseas.”
Gates’ son, King’Nazir, died in late February of this year from a rare genetic disorder that put him on life support in the last days of his life. His case made local news headlines as one of the few children in the world diagnosed with SPTLC 2, which cannot be treated.
“When my son was on life support, and when my son died … Travis started recklessly [and] crazy knowing that my son was about to die,” Gates, who described himself as a “father” to King, told The Daily Beast. “I know he had something to do with what he did.”
King, a US Army private from Racine, Wisconsin, was locked up in a detention center in South Korea for 47 days before he was scheduled to fly back to Fort Bliss, Texas, on Monday according to US officials who spoke to him. CBS and ABC.
He was reportedly taken to Incheon International Airport as far as the customs checkpoint – but instead of boarding the plane, he left the airport and went on an organized tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) separating the Korean Peninsula. .
While the trip was underway, King, without authorization, crossed the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” U.S. Command said in a statement. “We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and is working with our KPA colleagues to resolve this incident.”
“The pain came from my son, and it escalated to this shit.“
State one witness by NK News, who was reportedly on the same trip King joined, recounted the moment King allegedly made a run for it – away from the group and across the border into North Korea.
“To our right, we hear a loud HA-HA-HA and one guy from OUR GROUP who was with us all day – runs between two of the buildings and over to the other side… It took everyone a second to react and understand what really happened, then we were ordered to enter and through Freedom House and run back to our military bus,” the witness allegedly wrote in a social media post.
King Gates’ uncle told The Daily Beast that the US soldier “loved and respected” his son, adding that he was worried about the family after the tragic death.
“Picture yourself being in the army and your baby cousin from your favorite child, my only child, he’s struggling and going through pain. And he’s crying like a baby, and now you’re in the service and you can’t do anything about it. And then you’re crying like a baby,” Gates said. “The pain came from my son, and it escalated to this shit.”
In a statement to ABCKing’s mother, Claudina Gates, said she was shocked by the news, and that she “just wants him to come home.”
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that the US government’s first priority is “the welfare of our troops,” adding that he expects more information about King’s circumstances to emerge in the coming days.