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'It's bad, it's really bad,' soldier said of rampage

  • Article by: KIM MURPHY
  • Los Angeles Times
  • November 5, 2012 - 9:26 PM

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - A U.S. Army sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a middle-of-the-night rampage returned halfway through the killing spree and told a friend: "Hey Mac, I just shot some people in Alkozai," an Army prosecutor said Monday at the opening of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' preliminary hearing on murder charges.

When that fellow sergeant appeared not to believe him, telling him to "quit messing around" because he needed to go back to sleep, Bales said: "Cool, I'm going to Najiban. I'll be back at 5." Then, the 39-year-old sergeant left the base again and allegedly shot 11 people in that second village, south of the Army outpost near Kandahar.

A general alarm was raised after an Afghan guard spotted Bales leaving the second time.

By the time Bales returned -- covered in blood and wearing an Afghan shawl around his shoulders -- he seemed surprised to be greeted with leveled guns and demands that he drop his own weapon, prosecutor Lt. Col. Joseph Morse told a hearing officer at the Article 32 proceeding.

"Are you [expletive] kidding me? Mac, did you rat me out?" Bales allegedly said as he was ordered to drop his weapons, which included an M-4 rifle, a pistol and a grenade launcher.

"You're going to hear Staff Sgt. Bales say, 'It's bad, it's really bad.' You'll hear Sgt. Bales tell [a colleague], 'Some sick [expletive] is going to come out of this.'"

The prosecutor's statement provides the first detailed account of the early morning of March 11, when Bales is accused of engaging in a five-hour attack in both Alkozai, just north of the special forces base at Camp Belambay, and in Najiban, to the south.

Morse said Bales, a veteran of four combat deployments and father of two, was drinking Jack Daniel's and soda with friends and watching the movie "Man on Fire" at the base on the evening before the attacks.

The hearing is expected to last up to two weeks.

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