An Army Sergeant who was due to leave Iraq soon after multiple tours has been charged with murder and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of five fellow Soldiers at a military counseling clinic in Baghdad, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
Sgt. John M. Russell was taken into custody outside the clinic following Monday’s shooting at Camp Liberty, said Maj. Gen. David Perkins. It was the deadliest case of Soldier-on-Soldier violence since the Iraq war began in 2003.
……He was due to go home in three weeks, the official said.
Perkins said two of the dead were officers from the 55th Medical Company, a reserve unit from Indianapolis. The others were enlisted personnel seeking treatment at the clinic. He did not identify the victims by name.
Russell, of the 54th Engineer Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany, was charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in Monday’s shooting, Perkins said.
The initial reports:
The U.S. military says an American Soldier has killed five fellow soldiers at a U.S. base in Baghdad.
Military officials say the alleged attacker is in custody.
U.S. media report the killings took place Monday at a stress counseling clinic at Camp Liberty, on the outskirts of the capital.
An Army Sergeant opened fire on coalition forces attending a stress clinic at a military base outside of Baghdad International Airport Monday, killing five fellow Soldiers, the Pentagon and U.S. Command said.
A senior military official said the Soldier had been disarmed after an earlier incident at the center but returned with another weapon. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into the shootings was ongoing.
An American Soldier got into a verbal altercation with staff at a combat stress clinic on Camp Liberty, Iraq, returned to the clinic and shot five people Monday, killing at least four Soldiers, said an Army official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Soldier, whose identity had not been released Monday evening, was in custody, officials said.
……The shooting occurred at Camp Liberty, a large U.S. base on the western edge of Baghdad near the city’s international airport.
According to the Army official, details of the incident continue to emerge as investigators continue their work, but preliminary reports show the soldier was was being escorted to the clinic, for reasons not yet explained. Once inside, he got into a verbal altercation with the staff and was asked to leave. The Soldier and his escort got back into their vehicle and began to drive away, according to the Army official.
At some point during the drive, the Soldier got control of his escort’s weapon and ordered the escort out of the vehicle, the Army official said. The Soldier then drove back to the clinic, walked in and began shooting, the official said.
Army reports show five people were shot; four of them, all Soldiers, were killed. Their identities have yet to be released, pending notification of their families.
The condition of the fifth victim was not available Monday evening.
……In another incident in which a U.S. Soldier allegedly killed others, Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, 39, is accused of gunning down two fellow noncommissioned offices from his unit in September south of Baghdad. Bozicevich’s Article 32 proceeding took place in April at Fort Stewart, Ga., and the case is now pending a decision from the court-martial convening authority, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division. Cucolo will decide if Bozicevich will face a court-martial.
In April 2005, Sgt. Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death for killing two officers in Kuwait just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In June 2005, an Army Captain and Lieutenant were killed when an anti-personnel mine detonated in the window of their room at a U.S. base in Tikrit. New York National Guard Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was acquitted in the blast.
In addition, Spc. Chris Rolan, a medic, was sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2007 for killing a fellow Soldier after a night of heavy drinking in Iraq, and in 2008, Cpl. Timothy Ayers was sentenced to more than two years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the fatal 2007 shooting of his platoon sergeant in Iraq.
I don’t give a fuck what kind of “stress” he was under, he should have taken it out on the enemy instead of his fellow Soldiers.
I did two tours in Iraq. Every war involves stress, but there’s no goddamned excuse for what he did.
I was in the 101st Airborne Division when Asan Akbar used grenades and his M4 to kill CPT. Christopher Scott Seifert, an S2 Officer in one of our brigades, and wound 15 others. Akbar should be glad none of us were able to get our hands on him. He wouldn’t have made it to trial.
This will add fodder to the anti-war assholes, who dig for any reason to label American troops as psychos. Since Vietnam, the media and the anti-war Left has gleefully portrayed American war veterans as damaged goods. What makes it all the more vile, is that some veterans have disgraced themselves by joining the ranks of groups like the IVAW and VoteVets, two fringe organizations hellbent on making fools of themselves and denigrating the honorable service of others in the process.
The Soldiers who committed these savage acts of fratricide against their own, should get the death penalty. Unfortunately, not all of them get the sentence they deserve.