Sgt. John Russell, an Army sergeant stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, plead guilty Monday to five counts of first degree murder in one of the worst cases of soldier-on-soldier violence that occured during the Iraq War.
The Sherman, Texas native struck a plea agreement with the Army for pleading guilty, reducing his sentence from the death penalty to a life sentence.
In a written statement to the court, Russell says he went "into a rage" and gunned down four other soldiers and a Navy officer in a Baghdad mental health clinic, during the Iraq War in 2009.
"I wanted the pain to stop," he testifed about the killings during his court appearance at JBLM on Monday.
Members of Russell's unit testified in 2009 that his behavior changed after his third tour in Iraq and he eventually sought help from the Camp Liberty clinic, where he received counseling and prescription medication.
Russell said he left the clinic that day and later returned with a rifle because he wanted to hurt a doctor who he thought had encouraged him to commit suicide, according to various news sources. Russell didn't find that doctor, but still carried out the shooting.
He is assigned to 54th Engineering Battalion, which is based out of Germany but was operating under the command Joint Base Lewis-McChord (then Fort Lewis) at the time of the Iraq incident. He is currently confined at JBLM.