Afghanistan shooting suspect named: Army St
Reporting from Seattle and Washington, D.C.—The soldier suspected of shooting 16 Afghan civilians has been identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a U.S. official confirmed Friday.
Bales was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd Stryker Brigade, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. He was en route Friday to the maximum-security military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., according to a spokeswoman for his civilian attorney, John Henry Browne.
Browne said Thursday that the soldier's wife and family were "shocked" and could offer no explanation for Bales' alleged middle-of-the-night foray outside the small base where he was stationed and the deadly rampage that followed.
"He's never said anything antagonistic about Muslims, he's never said anything about Middle Eastern individuals. He has in general been very mild-mannered, so they were shocked by this," Browne said.
"He received almost every award you can get as a combat veteran.... He has no prior events in his dossier indicating any kind of misbehavior," Browne added.
Bales' wife and children have been brought onto the base as a precaution against possible reprisals, Browne said, denying media reports that Bales had been experiencing domestic problems.
The day before the rampage, Browne said, someone had been injured at the special forces base where Bales was posted. "It affected all the soldiers," he said.
Bales grew up in the Midwest and joined the Army after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, Browne said. He was injured during a previous tour in Iraq when the vehicle in which he was riding was hit by an improvised explosive device, the lawyer said. He suffered a concussive head injury and a wound that caused him to lose part of his foot.
The head injury had been evaluated at Madigan Army Medical Center at Lewis-McChord, Browne said, and Bales had been found suitable for redeployment.
"The military provides counseling to both soldiers and their families, and there was some counseling with our client about his previous injuries that he received in Iraq, but there was no 'he shouldn't go' conversation that we know of," Browne said.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Army Forces Command Gen. David Rodriguez told reporters at Lewis-McChord that the military would do “what’s right” in the investigation of the shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan.
The military could pursue the death penalty, Browne said on Thursday.