California shooting suspect may have suffered from PTSD, but is that a reason for his actions?

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Officials say California shooting suspect 28-year-old Ian Long exhibited characteristics that suggested he suffered from PTSD.

"The brain is a funny thing," said Malcolm Cherry, Vietnam veteran and the Commander of the American Legion in Bowling Green.

However, could this lead someone to killing 12 innocent people?

"Is violence a possibility? Yes, but most people with PTSD don't become violent and I think that's really key to understanding," said licensed psychologist Bill Pfoh​l.

Many mental health specialists saying the extremely violent act should not be blamed on PTSD.

"As soon as the authorities and mental health people get finished looking into his life then we might have a better indication," said Pfohl.

One local vet with PTSD talks about his experience with the disorder.

"It usually starts out with nightmares and that's what I have experienced myself and I've had nightmares and they're vivid. You actually think you're back in combat. In some cases you're still fighting for your life," said Cherry.

The visualization of going back into war can certainly trigger a PTSD victim, but to what extent?

"Most people who have PTSD are not violent, a small core is violent," said Pfohl.

Cherry, who has seen death firsthand on the battle ground, has overcome PTSD and now assists other victims with the disease.

"I also work with other veterans that I see that are maybe on the verge or on the brink," he said.

While there is help out there, Dr. Pfohl says Kentucky has cut mental health funding.

"Finding a professional, a mental health professional who's experienced in PTSD and also having access to them can be quite challenging here in Kentucky," he explained.

It's also important to note that PTSD doesn't just stem from war.

"It doesn't just come from war, it comes from life events, it can come from exposure, it can come from witnessing," said Pfohl.

Long showed symptoms of PTSD in his lifetime, and by allegedly committing this horrific shooting, he's now passed off this disease to the victims and witnesses.

In addition to the VA Clinic here, Dr. Pfohl says a good resource for those struggling is the National Center for PTSD.

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