Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the lead suspect in the Sunday shooting rampage that killed 16 Afghan civilians, has arrived at the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., from Kuwait, the Army said in a statement late Friday. He could be charged in the killings—the worst atrocity committed by an American soldier in the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan—as early as Saturday, ABC News reported. He is being held in a private cell in the military's only maximum security prison.
Bales' name was released late Friday after being withheld for almost a week, the Pentagon said, out of concern for his security and that of his family.
His wife and two young children, a 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, have since been moved to the military base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, from their home in Lake Tapps, Wash., some 20 miles away.
Originally from Norwood, Ohio, Bales, 38, joined the military in November 2001 at age 27 to defend his country after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, his Seattle attorney John Henry Browne told journalists this week. Bales had served three previous tours in Iraq, sustaining two serious injuries, including a brain concussion when his vehicle rolled over after hitting an improvised explosive device on his last tour.
He and his family had not been happy about his latest deployment to Afghanistan, in December, which came as an unwelcome surprise, Browne said. Bales' unit, part of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, "had initially been told they wouldn't have to go to Afghanistan, Browne said," the Associated Press reported.
The family may have also been suffering financial strains.
A Washington state real estate agent, Phillip Rodocker, told the New York Times Friday that Bales' wife contacted him on March 8—three days before the Afghanistan shooting rampage—to ask him to put their house on the market because they could not keep up with the mortgage payments. A second property they had in the area appeared to have been abandoned about two years ago, reports said.
"She told me she was behind in our payments," Rodocker told the Times. "She said he was on his fourth tour and it was getting kind of old and they needed to stabilize their finances."
On Tuesday, however, two days after the massacre, Bales' wife contacted Rodocker again. "She called and said she needed to take the house off the market due to a family emergency," he said.
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- war in Afghanistan