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UPDATE: Suspect in Afghan Civilian Killings, JBLM Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of Lake Tapps, In Army Custody in Kansas

The Army has identified Bales, who owns a home in Lake Tapps, as the suspect involved in the killing of Afghan civilians. Reports indicate he might have been suffering combat stress. Neighbors express shock and sadness for the family.

U.S. officials have identified the suspect involved in the killing of Afghan civilians as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, and they have confirmed that he is being held in pre-trial confinement at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

The soldier is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday. According to The AP via The News Tribune, he was part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

He's being held at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility in Fort  Leavenworth, KS, a state-of-the-art, medium/minimum custody facility. It provides pre-trial confinement and post-trial confinement for U.S. military inmates sentenced to up to five years of confinement, according to the Army.

Bales will be in special housing in his own cell and not in a four-person bay. He  will be afforded time outside the cell for hygiene and recreational purposes as governed by Army Regulation 190-47. He will be afforded religious support,  if desired.
 
The JRCF has a 464-bed capacity, but it is not possible to provide the number  of current inmates as it is ever-changing. However, the number of inmates in pre-trial confinement is typically around one dozen, according to the Army.

Earlier this week, officials said Bales was trained as a sniper and had suffered a head injury.

The Seattle Times is reporting that a Seattle lawyer who has talked with Bales said the veteran soldier didn't want to deploy to Afghanistan after tours in Iraq and that he had been showing signs of stress.

UPDATE: Pierce County records show that Bales and his wife, Karilyn, own a home in Lake Tapps, which they purchased in 2005 for $280,000. The family reportedly has two children. Since the killings occurred, officials have moved his family on base.

Bales, 38, reportedly has a history with the local court system, according to the newspaper.

Stuart Ness, a Vietnam veteran who lives down the street from Bales, stood on the street near the house and a gathering of television news trucks and reporters. He said he came out to show support to the Bales family. 

"Something terrible has happened and all hell has come down on this poor guy," he said.

Ness said few people have served in the military and fewer still understand combat. He said Bales reported multiple combat tours might have put him in a "survival" instinct mode and that maybe lines started to blur. 

"No one in their right mind would do what he did."

Paul Wohlberg, a next-door neighbor, said the Bales family moved into the three-story home in the relatively upscale neighborhood five or six years ago. He described the Bales family as "private" and said he would go weeks not seeing any family members. 

Bales' work made it necessary for him to pull some late nights. "They work hard, those guys," he said. "I feel sorry for them."

When asked by reporters if he was aware if Bales faced any domestic or financial problems, Wohlberg said he never saw any indication there was anything wrong. His daughter's kids were about the same age as Bales' two children, he said. "I can't believe Bob's the guy who did that."

Wohlberg noted there had been a "For Sale" sign on the house but recently it had been taken down.  The last time he saw Bales was just before the soldier's recent deployment to Afghanistan. Wohlberg said he told the 38-year-old to be safe. Bales said, "No problem. I will," according to Wohlberg.

"He's a good guy," Wohlberg said. "He got put in the wrong place at the wrong time."

According to MSNBC, neighbors asked Friday about Bales said they were shocked:

Kassie Holland, who lives next door, said she would often see Bales playing with his two kids and the family together at the modern split-level home.

"My reaction is that I'm shocked," she said. "I can't believe it was him. There were no signs. It's really sad. I don't want to believe that he did it."

"He always had a good attitude about being in the service. He was never really angry about it. When I heard him talk, he said, it seemed like, 'yeah, that's my job. That's what I do.' He never expressed a lot of emotion toward it."

 

Who is Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales?

Here is his service data provided by the Army as of Friday:

Name: Robert Bales
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Date of Rank: April 1, 2008
MOS: 11B (Infantry)
Duty Status: Active
Basic Active Service Date (Enlistment Date): Nov. 8, 2001
Assignment History: 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Sept 11, 2002 -- Present)

Military Education/Year Completed:
· Combat Life Savers Course 2002
· Warrior Leaders Course 2008
· Sniper 2008
· Visual Tracker 2008
· Combatives Level 1 2010
· Combatives Level 2 2010
· U.S. Air Force Airlift Planner 2010
· Advance Leaders Course (ALC) 2010

Civilian Education/Year Completed: Associate Degree (2 Yr College) 1992
Home of Record: Jensen Beach, Fla.


Deployment History/Time Frame:
· Operation Iraqi Freedom (12 Months) / Nov. 1, 2003 - Oct. 1, 2004
· Operation Iraqi Freedom (15 Months) / June 19, 2006 - Sept. 22, 2007
· Operation Iraqi Freedom (10 Months) / Aug. 8, 2009 - June 4, 2010
· Operation Enduring Freedom / Dec. 1, 2011 - March 2012
 
Awards and Decorations:
· Army Good Conduct Medal (Three awarded)
· Iraq Campaign Medal Campaign Star (Two awarded)
· National Defense Service Medal
· Overseas Service Ribbon
· Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
· Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
· Combat Infantry Badge
· Expert Infantry Badge
· Army Commendation Medal (Six awarded)
· Army Achievement Medal
· Meritorious Unit Commendation (Two awarded)
· Army Superior Unit Award

Question: Did you know Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales? If so and you're willing to talk to Patch, please contact Editor Brent Champaco at brent.champaco@patch.com or 253-217-6060.

Concerned Mom March 17, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children.
Nona Thompson March 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM
To the family my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. These will be hard times for you. I think everyone should back off, all of our young men and women who serve in the military pack their gear when the order comes down and go wherever ordered. How often do you think of them or their family back here waiting, think about it. Yet when one is accused of anything at all it seems there is plenty of time for the people being protected and served to jump on the bandwagon to ridicule the one accused. Wait until you hear the entire story, wait until the "fat lady" sings and in the meantime say some prayer for this man and his family. Lord knows they need them right now.......Nona Thompson
Valerie C. March 17, 2012 at 07:07 AM
I agree. Unless one personally knows & loves someone with PTSD, they haven't a single, solitary clue of what these men & women are going through. It can be hell. Yes, he & countless others just like him need grace & our understanding, but, mostly our prayers for him & his family. I can only imagine the hell his family is going through right now. Let's hope the government gives him grace.
Sharon Hodgins March 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I feel very sorry for people in our military who have been deployed too many times. I know that what Bales did is rare, but it surprises me that this type of tragedy doesn't happen more. I feel that our whole policy of sending our military into areas over and over again is wrong. If we really needed to go into Iraq, which in my opinion was a war of choice, and into Afghanistan, we need to reinstate the draft so we can have a larger pool to draw from, so these endless deployments for our soldiers stop. I know that the military feels that we need to have a more "professional" army which a draftee might not be enthusiastic about becoming, but it would avoid the situation of having our men and women from being deployed so many times that it becomes a problem for them mentally. To be placed in an area where the culture is so different, and to not only be under the stress of figuring out who is the enemy, as they are not in uniform, and hoping not to make a cultural faux pas just adds to it. I blame the policy that placed Bales in this situation and feel we all share responsibility for his actions. We have allowed it to happen by allowing soldiers to be sent over there one too many times. I pray for fair treatment for Bales and my prayers go out to his wife and children, as well as to him, and to all other families who are facing the issues of having to deal with a stressed out spouse who returns home from these wars.
John Tracy March 17, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Sharon, As a combat Vietnam Veteran and someone who has experienced the tragedy and influence of wars on the individual and his family, I could not agree with you more. This is the fault of our military and Congress. We need to take better care of our active duty and veterans. Sgt Bales endured a head injury. The Army NEVER should have sent him back for an additional tour. I say let the man go to rehab and be cured of his mental and physical wounds. I hope a defense fund is started to pay for his legal costs and for his family who will suffer most. I also hope this is a good lesson for our Congress members who remain distant from the injuries endured by our young warriors. This should be a wake up call for us to ge the hell out of Afghanistan and let them fend for themselves after 10 years our our investment in our finest treasures--- our sons and daughters. God Bless Sgt Bales and his family.
Brent Champaco March 17, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I just got his from Patch user Kelley Light: "I agree with each comment above...interesting that I just read in Deuteronomy this morning about Laws concerning Israel's Kings, Laws concerning cities of refuge and Laws concerning warfare...I enjoy reading from the ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible...these verses can be found in Deut. 17:14-20, 19:1-13 and the whole chapter of Deut. 20! God is still on the throne and He rules and reigns and nothing happens on this earth He created without His awareness! Our justice system and how our government is run is in need of great change...God help us...may He continue to show mercy towards His children! We need to humble ourselves, pray, seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways if we want God's blessing and not cursing on us...this is a wake-up call...Read Deut. 8 and 11 if you want to remember the LORD your God and know how to love and serve Him. Better yet, read God's Word, the Bible, if you desire to know the truth which will set you free...praying for this dear family and for justice to be served justly...this can be found in Deut. 17:8-13...just sharing my heart for anyone who might read my comment with the hope to be an encouragement and blessing! P.S. Just want to add that our son, Caleb Joshua, is soon to deploy to Kuwait...they're saying the first week in April!"
Brent Champaco March 17, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I got this e-mail from another Patch user on the other side of the country: As a combat Vietnam Veteran and someone who has experienced the tragedy and influence of wars on the individual and his family, I could not agree with you more. This is the fault of our military and Congress. We need to take better care of our active duty and veterans. Sgt Bales endured a head injury. The Army NEVER should have sent him back for an additional tour. I say let the man go to rehab and be cured of his mental and physical wounds. I hope a defense fund is started to pay for his legal costs and for his family who will suffer most. I also hope this is a good lesson for our Congress members who remain distant from the injuries endured by our young warriors. This should be a wake up call for us to ge the hell out of Afghanistan and let them fend for themselves after 10 years our our investment in our finest treasures--- our sons and daughters. God Bless Sgt Bales and his family. Bill Stacey Wilmington, DE
Regina Morris March 18, 2012 at 05:32 AM
As an army wife of a soldier with PTSD, I have the utmost sympathy for the Bales family. That said, I can NOT get the image of those dead women and children out of my mind. Some sympathy should also go to those families, no matter the national politics.
Sharon Hodgins March 18, 2012 at 03:12 PM
In my above comment, I did not mean to imply that I was not sorry for people whom Bales shot. War makes victims of all --- the average Afghani who is caught in a war they did not want, the soldier who is sent there. What Bales did was terrible; on the other hand, it is awful that we continue to deploy a soldier like Bales, deployed 4 times, who cannot handle it and out of stress, rage, whatever, killed the innocent Afghani women and children.
Justice mustbe served March 18, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I am outraged after reading these comments. so little said and virtually no sympathy for the 16 innocent civilians - mostly women and children. where's humanity... justice must be served. murder has to be condemned
Justice mustbe served March 18, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Befittingly ... he has picked the same attorney who represented one of the worst serial killer ever - Ted Bundy. Justice must be served. murder has to be condemned.
Valerie C. March 19, 2012 at 04:41 PM
@justice; Last time I checked "innocent until proven guilty" was still on the books.....
Neil March 20, 2012 at 07:57 PM
If he is a monster to you, he is your monster. Obviously you never spent any time in a war zone. The Army brings your body home, not your mind. Some 40 years later I am still changed by Vietnam. They used to say "there is a piece of you that you will leave in Vietnam, and piece of Vietnam that will be in you that you can't get rid of no matter how you try. Among Vietnam veteran there is a current saying when asked when the nightmares end: They end when you die. Or at least I hope so. I was drafted, I didn't ask to carry a gun or use it in a war zone. You condemn this soldier yet it was you who sent him there to do your dirty work. All Americans are to some extent responsible for what he did and what we made of him. Neither the Army nor the VA will really bring these young men truly home. The only ones who can restore them to something resembling what we send over are US. The loved ones and the veterans’ organization are the ones with the entire burden of trying to restore them to being happy secure American. When is the last time you emailed you Senator or Congressman telling him that we are using innocent Americans as cannon fodder in these wars? If you haven’t emailed them then it is you who should be on trial alongside the Sarge.
Justice mustbe served March 22, 2012 at 07:19 AM
I am not against giving a fair trial to both parties - the killer and the innocent children/women victims I am just outraged that there was so little said/felt about the victims. Also, this killer has a lot of question marks about his past: he deceived a senior citizen for financial fraud, hit and run accident on his record and. a domestic violence arrest... give him a fair trial - But also spare a thought and a prayer for the victims whoever is the culprit - this sgt, the army or the whole nation - the end result was a murder of innocent civilian children and women and therefore must be condemned

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