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U.S. Soldier in Custody Following Slaying of 5 Americans in Iraq

(American Forces Press Service)
by American Forces Press Service
Updated: May 11th 2009

Army Sgt. John M. Russell, 44, of Sherman, Texas, is being held in military police custody at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, and has been charged with five specifications of murder and one of aggravated assault, said Army Maj. Hunter Holliday, a military spokesman in Baghdad following an incident yesterday.

Russell is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 54th Engineer Battalion, based in Bamberg, Germany. 

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. local time on Monday, May 11th at the U.S. military base Camp Liberty in the Iraqi capital.  Pentagon officials said the shooting happened at a stress clinic, where troops can go for help with the stresses of combat or personal issues. It was unclear whether those killed were workers at the clinic or were there for counseling. No details were released about the gunman or what might have provoked the shooting.

“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all,” said Army Col. John Robinson, Multinational Corps Iraq spokesman. “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all the servicemembers involved in this terrible tragedy.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman called the shooting an “unexpected and tragic event,” adding that the incident is under investigation.

The names of the deceased are being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Defense Department.