Veteran and affiliate owner Atom Ziniewicz struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and bipolar disorder. He ultimately lost his battle, but he fought with his CrossFit community at his back.
On Sept. 21, 2012, 34-year-old Atom Ziniewicz faced down two Alaska State Troopers near Mile 270 of the Parks Highway in Fairbanks, Alaska. The former Green Beret, CrossFit athlete, coach and owner of CrossFit Liberation was armed with a handgun. Earlier in the day, he had shot and wounded 21-year-old Brenton Green and then disappeared. The police began a search, combing the area and establishing checkpoints along the highway.
Ziniewicz had spent the last year fighting a losing battle with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. His life back home in Virginia was spiraling out of control.
“I’m not like this,” he had told ex-wife Carrie Satterlee before he left.
“I can’t quiet this noise in my head,” he had told good friend and fellow coach Scott Horton.
Deep down, Satterlee thinks he found the escape he was looking for in Alaska.
“I think he was looking for a way out,” she said. “Given his background, he knew what the response (of the police) would be.”
Four hours after the Green shooting, Ziniewicz appeared. He came out of the woods, about 30 yards away from the two troopers. Ziniewicz drew his gun, and the trooper fired. Ziniewicz was killed.
The voices, finally, were quiet.