May 12, 2009

Camp Liberty Update: U.S. Charges Soldier in Iraq with Murder

Accused of fatally shooting five fellow soldiers

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A U.S. Army sergeant who had served previously in Iraq has been charged with murder and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of five fellow soldiers at a U.S. military counseling clinic in Baghdad, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Sgt. John M. Russell of the 54th Engineering Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany was charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in Monday's shooting, Maj. Gen. David Perkins told reporters.

Perkins said two of the dead were officers -- doctors from the Army and Navy -- and the others were enlisted personnel seeking treatment at the clinic. He did not identify the victims by name.

Perkins gave few details of the shooting since the investigation is ongoing and added that there were conflicting accounts of what happened.

He said the alleged assailant had been referred to the clinic by his superiors, presumably because of concern over his mental state. Perkins said Russell was "probably" on his third tour of Iraq but was due to leave soon.

Perkins said the assailant's weapon had been taken away. Somehow he got a new weapon, entered the clinic and opened fire, he added.

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