May 12th, 2009
05:06 PM ET

Soldier charged in deaths of 5 U.S. troops

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the charges on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/05/12/iraq.soldiers.killed/art.liberty.gi.jpg caption="U.S. troops based at Camp Liberty near Baghdad, Iraq, wait while a robot disarms a roadside bomb in 2005."]


The U.S. soldier who killed five fellow troops at a stress clinic in Iraq apparently used a weapon he wrested away from another soldier to carry out the act, a defense official said Tuesday.

The shooter was identified as Army Sgt. John M. Russell, according to Maj. Gen. David Perkins, the military spokesman who briefed reporters in Baghdad.

Russell has been charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault after Monday's shooting at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad International Airport, Perkins added.

A 44-year-old communications specialist from Sherman, Texas, Russell is serving his third tour in Iraq and has previously deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo, Perkins' office said.

Russell recently had been referred to counseling by his commander due to unspecified words and actions, Perkins said. The commander also ordered that the sergeant's weapon be taken away.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Iraq • PTSD
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Fabiole

    As a former Army Sgt who spent 7 years in the US Army, the real crime is the fact that only a few are serving this country. The majority of people in this country are not sacrificing as much as they think they are. To serve in a combat zone for such a long period time is crimminal. Now Obama is sending the troops to Afganistan. When will this thing end? As long as the same people are sent to fight our wars while the arm chair warrors sit home or in a Bar drinking beer, or etc., those poor souls will not leave the war zone except in a body bag.
    Those chicken hawks should get themselves together and help our troops by joining the military. As events, indicate the war against the Muslim terrorist has just began. To believe it will end soon is wishful thinking.

    May 12, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  2. Barbara Evans

    I am suprised that this has not happened before now. I don't think any of us can begin to comprehend what stess our soldiers are
    under. They are having to serve multi tours, worrying about dying
    or staying in one piece, The families at home are having a hard time
    just making it in this economy which adds to the soldiers already
    above average stress load. 1 year is long enough to spend in a
    combat zone then it should be required that the soldier be reassigned
    to a stable zone for at least 18-24 months before being sent back
    to a battle zone.

    May 12, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  3. ronvan

    Sad to say it, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    May 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  4. jd

    I agree with Wilton.
    The only other thing I have to say is that my thoughts and prayers go out to all involved.
    Truly a sad story all around.

    May 12, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  5. Marceline

    First I have to send my prayers out to the families of all those killed in this incident as well as Sgt Russell's family. Not enough is done to deal with the stress that a lot of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen face in doing these back to back tours in the desert. I know for myself, when leaving Iraq, I was placed in front of a computer and told to answer questions to determine what my level of stress is. To be quite honest, I just answered what I thought would avoid me having to see a clinician, because I just wanted to go home. Was that the right thing to do? Not really, but when you've been away for so long and all you can think of is going home, you don't want to hold up the process any longer, at least that was what I was thinking. In my case it was another 8 months before I had to go back, so I had time to work through some of the stress I felt from being there and I was a little better prepared for my return. I left active duty after this last time and joined the reserves and took a two deferment from having to go back.
    It's hard when you first get there thinking you're only doing a 6, 8, or 12 months deployment and they come back and tell you, "Oh, by the way...you've been extended to 15 months." You get 30 days of R&R for any deployment over 12 months. Honestly, that's not enough if you end up having to go back to do another 12 to 15 months. I don't believe any armed forces member who does a 12 to 15 month deployment should return back so soon to that environment. They need time to decompress and be surrounded by family and friends and get the support they need to recover before being put back into that kind of environment. Many of us are willing and able, but sometimes we need someone to look out for our best interest and we look to our leaders to provide that to us. We need to know that we're not expendable but that we are viable assets and that we matter.
    This was bound to happen as someone said earlier. Many have committed suicide, it was only matter of time before someone turned on his or her own. Tragic as this is, maybe this is the wake up call our leaders need in providing the troops with the help they need and stop trying to use band aid techniques to address the problem.

    May 12, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  6. Wilton H.Cain

    TO invade a contry for no reson and kill or cause to be killed 100000 or more people is or should be a war crime. If not the Bush people caused the death of over 4000 American men and women and the wounding of over 25000 tell me that not a crime a ill- gotten for no cause war caused by lies. that real TORTURE LOOK AT THE SUFFERING OF THOSE AMERICAN FAMILIES I BET NONE OF THEIR FAMILIES GOT INJURIED OR DIED LETS TALK ABOUT MURDER OF OVER 4000 AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN IN IRAQ. THATS THE CRIME THAT NEED TO BE PROSECUTED,

    May 12, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  7. annareza

    sad to hear this news. it's been shown in every war movie and seen it in television series and yet these things still happen in our lifetime. i think this is one of the reason why President Obama is keen on pulling all the U.S. troops in the war torn area. the battle is not between 2 countries but to the soldiers themselves.

    May 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  8. Jeremy

    I knew this was going to happen eventually, i myself have had a hard time dealing with it.

    May 12, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    Given all the battle places this soldier had been to, its no wonder he got stressed out. I think the humane thing would have been to send him back to the states for therapy away from and out of battle conditions. Perhaps then all these people would still be with us.

    May 12, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  10. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I cannot even imagine what the family and friends of these soldiers are going through. They are all in my thoughts and prayers. At times like these, one realizes that the sacrifice will always be greater than the cause. When the hell are we getting out?

    May 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  11. Cindy

    It is really sad that John got to this state of mind that he would kill his fellow soldiers! Not nearly enough is done to help these guys and girls deal with what they are seeing and doing over there.


    May 12, 2009 at 5:12 pm |