Fort Hood killings follow shooting in Iraq

Nov. 5, 2009 at 6:30 PM
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WASHIINGTON, D.C., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The shootings Thursday at Fort Hood in Texas follows, by five months, another mass killing at a combat stress clinic at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.

Sgt. John Russell, the man charged with murder in the May 11 shooting deaths of five soldiers, was a career soldier in his third tour in Iraq. Investigators say after he became agitated and was asked to leave the clinic he stole a gun from a soldier who was escorting him, returned to the clinic and opened fire. Two officers with the 55th Medical Company and three enlisted men who were patients at the clinic died.

A report released last month by Multinational Corps-Iraq faulted the Army for its handling of Russell's breakdown in the weeks before the shootings, The New York Times reported.

Russell had threatened to take his own life on several occasions and made four visits to the stress clinic. The report found there was no procedure to monitor him, with members of his unit trying to keep an eye on him as best they could.

While the Camp Liberty incident was the worst so far in Iraq of U.S. soldiers killing their comrades, it was not the first. Sgt. Hassan Akbar has been sentenced to death for killing two officers and wounding another soldier with grenades in Kuwait in 2003 during preparations for the invasion. Another sergeant, Alberto Martinez, pleaded guilty to placing a bomb that killed two officers in Tikrit in 2005.

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