A Granbury man who claimed he was wounded in combat in Africa and earned a Purple Heart as a Navy SEAL was arrested over the weekend and accused of impersonating a military officer, authorities said Monday.
Carlos Luna-Gonzalez, 29, was in the Navy as an enlisted seaman apprentice — but his service record indicates he was never a commissioned officer or a SEAL, nor did he earn a Purple Heart or face active combat, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said.
Luna-Gonzalez was arrested Saturday at Lone Star Guns Gallery & Gear after he accepted a Land Warfare Resources Corp. assault rifle given in appreciation of his duty.
Luna-Gonzales could not be reached Monday. He faces charges of theft from $1,500 to $20,000, tampering with government document, and fraudulent or fictitious military record, Fowler said.
“The entire situation is more than bothersome,” Fowler said Monday in a news release. “It is plain troubling. Our citizens pride themselves in honoring true veterans just as the rest of the country. This man stole a title which has been earned by many through bloodshed of their own.”
A tip to the Texas Rangers said the suspect was representing himself as a ranking Navy SEAL officer on a social media outlet and posted photographs of himself wearing Navy dress uniform while dining at a coffee shop. Other photos showed Luna-Gonzalez wearing the uniform with a lieutenant (junior grade) rank, and displaying a Navy SEAL Trident, Jump Wings and various other awards on his uniform, Fowler said.
Luna-Gonzalez told law officers in Parker County that he was temporarily stationed at Naval Air Station Fort Worth while he was waiting for a medical discharge for injuries he suffered while stationed in Africa during a SEAL operation, authorities said.
Investigators determined that he was given an early general discharge.
An undercover officer told Luna-Gonzalez that the owner of Lone Star Guns — a supporter of military veterans — wanted to thank him personally and present him with a rifle in appreciation, Fowler said. On Saturday, Luna-Gonzalez walked into the Weatherford gun shop, dressed in a Navy uniform displaying officer insignia, the Navy SEAL Trident and a Purple Heart.
He repeated his story, was given the $2,300 rifle and was taken into custody, Fowler said.
The case was investigated by the Rangers and investigators with the Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes Unit.
Luna-Gonzalez was released Sunday from the Parker County Jail after posting $18,500 bail.