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Iraq war veteran ordered to stay away from Tom Cruise

December 11, 2008 |  5:34 pm

Shasta An Iraq war veteran who was arrested for waving a gun on the 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara was ordered to stay away from actor Tom Cruise, a Superior Court judge ruled this week.

Edward Van Tassel, 28, was directed to stay away from Cruise, his homes and his family under a restraining order issued Wednesday by Judge George Eskin. The order was prompted after Van Tassel visited one of Cruise’s homes in Beverly Hills three times this month, apparently trying to solicit his help in supporting war veterans.

"The court said it was a difficult example of a fan stalking Mr. Cruise, but that's not what he's about at all," said Van Tassel's lawyer, Robert Landheer. He said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

(Read the rest after the jump).

--Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: LAT file

Van Tassel's Nov. 3 standoff with police forced the closure of the 101 Freeway for several hours.

He was booked on charges of resisting arrest and wearing a mask while committing a crime. He was released after posting $50,000 bail, Landheer said.

Shortly afterward, Van Tassel voluntarily checked himself into the Veteran's Affairs West Los Angeles Medical Center, his attorney said. He left the hospital grounds Dec. 3 and on Sunday to visit Cruise's home, Landheer said.

Police didn't arrest Van Tassel, but instead took him back to the hospital, he said.

Each time Van Tassel visited Cruise, he brought with him a hand-written letter and a copy of Bruce Lee's book "Fighting Spirit," Landheer said. In the letter, Van Tassel wrote that Cruise was one of the three people he admires most, along with Lee.

He said that Lee's book had enriched his life and he hoped it could do the same for Cruise. "I reach out to you as a fan and maybe someday as a friend," Van Tassel wrote. "The soldiers NEED your ASSISTANCE."

Landheer said his client's intention has always been about finding a way to help his colleagues fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I think he feels guilt that he's here, he's safe, but his buddies aren't safe," Landheer said. "He's one of the walking wounded that is a product of this war."