U.S. Official: Suspect In Afghan Shooting Was ‘Snapped’ Under Strain

A senior American official said Thursday that the staff sergeant suspected of Shooting 16 Afghan villagers had been drinking alcohol and suffering from the stress related to his fourth combat tour and tensions with his wife.

The American staff sergeant suspected of killing 16 Afghan villagers had been drinking alcohol — a violation of military rules in combat zones — and suffering from the stress related to his fourth combat tour and tensions with his wife about the deployments on the night of the massacre, a senior American official said Thursday. Photo: DVIDSHUB/Flickr

The suspect, whose name has not been revealed, was moved from Afghanistan to Kuwait on Wednesday, according to USA Today.

The transfer was necessary because there was no appropriate detention facility to hold him in Afghanistan, officials say.

The suspect is expected to be flown to the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on Friday.

The New York Times says that his sudden transfer to the United States is the result of a behind-the-scenes diplomatic uproar with Kuwait.

It seems that Kuwait officials  learned of the sergeant’s move to an American base on Kuwaiti territory from news reports before the United States government could alert the Kuwaitis about it.

“When they learned about it, the Kuwaitis blew a gasket and wanted him out of there,” the official said.

meanwhile, new details of the shooting have been revealed.

The suspect’s lawyer said that the day before the horrible incident, the soldier saw his friend’s leg blown off.

“His leg was blown off, and my client was standing next to him,” Seattle attorney John Henry Browne said.

The sergeant is described as a 38-year-old married father of two who was on his first combat tour in Afghanistan but his fourth over all, including three in Iraq, since he enlisted in 2001.

“There will be questions raised about his emotional and mental stability for a fourth deployment,” the American official said.

The layer said that the suspect had been injured twice during his three previous deployments to Iraq. Browne also noticed that he didn’t want to go to Afghanistan.

During his deployment in Iraq, the suspect suffered a concussive head injury in a car accident caused by a roadside bomb, according to the lawer. He also suffered a battle-related injury that resulted in surgery to remove part of his foot.

Browne said that he was screened by health officials after the head injury before he redeployed. It is not clear whether the sergeant had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

John Browne said it was “nonsense” that there were exceptional marital tensions.

Browne and his co-counsel, Emma Scanlan, said that they had met with the soldier’s wife and other family members.

His family was “totally shocked,” Browne said. “He’s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He’s in general very mild-mannered.”

The soldier and his wife had “a very healthy marriage,” Mr. Browne said.

The lawer also said that many the suspect’s his family members had moved from the Midwest to western Washington.

He said the soldier had done “blue collar” work in the Midwest before he enlisted.

The soldier’s wife had “a very good job,” he said, noting that he was being paid, not working on the case pro bono.

The suspect enlisted within a week of the terrorist attacks of 2001.

“He felt it was his duty to stand up for the United States,” said Mr. Browne.

The American official said that the soldier’s family have been moved from their home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for their protection. The sergeant’s name was not revealed mainly because of concern for their safety.

The American official said the account of the sergeant’s state of mind came from two soldiers, who said that they had been drinking alcohol with him before the tragedy.

The soldiers face disciplinary action, he said. The soldier asked to be represented by Browne, who is a well-known Seattle defense attorney.

Browne said he has only handled three or four military cases before. The soldier will also have at least one military lawyer.

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