Joshua Dial once managed the gubernatorial campaign for Tiger King’s "Joe Exotic"

By Christine Pelisek
April 09, 2020 05:23 PM
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Joshua Dial, who once managed the gubernatorial campaign for Netflix’s Tiger King’s Joseph Maldonado-Passage, says he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the 2017 accidental shooting death of Travis Maldonado, who was once married to the self-styled “Joe Exotic.”

“I definitely have PTSD,” Dial tells PEOPLE. “There was no preparation for what I saw in that office. It was so shocking. I have nightmares about it.”

According to Dial, Maldonado woke him up like he did most mornings: by pointing a gun at him.

“What Travis would do in the mornings is he would kick down the door, point a gun at you,” he says. “That very day he did that to me. He broke in my room, pointed that new gun that he said would not fire without a clip at me, and asked me to wake up. I’m lucky to even be alive.”

Joe Exotic and Travis Maldonado
Netflix

Dial says he and Maldonado, who came to the zoo in 2013, were in his office at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park when the shooting occurred.

“He said, ‘Hey, did you know a Ruger won’t fire without a clip?,’” he says. “I said, ‘Really?’ He put the gun to his temple at that point and pulled the trigger.”

Joshua Dial
Netflix

Dial says that after Maldonado’s October 6 death, Maldonado-Passage allegedly called a meeting and accused staffers of not doing enough to save his young husband — and then made them watch a video of a tiger attacking a zoo staffer, leading to the amputation of the staffer’s arm.

For more on Netflix’s wild hit docuseries Tiger King, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

But Dial says there was no way for anyone to save Maldonado.

“The second he pulled the trigger, I knew he was dead,” he says. “You don’t come back from something like that.”

So far, a GofundMe page launched to help Dial pay for the counseling he says he needs but can’t afford has raised more than $4,000.

“I’ve just been grateful for the support of people that are trying to get me help for counseling,” he says.

“I don’t want to have to ask for help, but I know that everything I went through, especially working over a-year-and-a-half looking at that bullet hole thousands of times, I need help. It’s been a hard realization for me to come to. To watch someone take their own life is a violation against nature. It’s not something that the human brain is meant to deal with.”

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is streaming now on Netflix.