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"I Fired a Warning Shot": Here Is What a Navy SEAL Sniper Testified at the Eddie Gallagher Trial
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper testified on Friday that he fired warning shots to scare away a civilian noncombatant in Mosul before Chief Eddie Gallagher fired and told them over the radio, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Under direct examination by prosecutors, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert recounted the alleged shooting of an old man along the Tigris river during the Battle of Mosul in 2017. At the time, Tolbert was a member of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon who was stationed in the south tower of a bombed out building, while Gallagher and others were stationed in the north tower.
Tolbert testified that he was scanning windows along the riverbank searching for targets when he noticed a man moving closer to the river. As another SEAL explained in previous testimony, firing warning shots to keep civilians off the battlefield was a standard practice, according to their rules of engagement.
"I aimed to the side — far to the side — and fired," Tolbert testified. "I took the shot. The man got startled."
The man then ran from the river to a nearby building and tried to go inside, but the door was locked, Tolbert said.
"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert said. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Tolbert said the man, who was wearing traditional garb, then stood back up and ran away.
Gallagher is accused of murdering a wounded fighter and separately firing on innocent civilians during a deployment to Mosul, Iraq in 2017. He has pleaded not guilty.
"I saw Eddie Gallagher shoot someone who didn't deserve to die," Tolbert testified. "I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS."
Under cross-examination, Tolbert said he did not tell other snipers over the radio that the man he was firing on was a civilian he was just trying to scare away. He explained that he didn't say anything since each tower was typically covering their own sectors of fire (it was not clear which tower in this incident was firing in the wrong sector).