News that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians has sent shockwaves through his Washington state neighborhood. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.
Updated at 11:10 ET: U.S. officials told NBC News on Friday that the soldier suspected of shooting 16 civilians in Afghanistan is Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
Bales, 38, was deployed to Afghanistan in December with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash., the officials said.
Bales arrived late Friday at a U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he will be held in a solitary cell, the Army said. He was flown in from Kuwait, officials said.
"It's a tragedy," Gen. David Rodriguez, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, said at the base, home to about 37,000 Army and 6,000 Air Force personnel. "Everyone knows this doesn't reflect our standards or values, nor does it reflect the soldiers that perform here and overseas. They are shocked, just as we are."
Bales, a married father of two, has a clean record of conduct, the officials said. He joined the military after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"He felt it was his calling to stand up for the us after 911 and then decided to make his career the military," said his civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, who spoke to Bales on Thursday night.
Bales had been deployed to Iraq three times before going to Afghanistan. While in Iraq, officials say, he suffered a traumatic head injury in a crash and also suffered a foot injury in a separate incident. In Afghanistan, Bales reportedly saw a friend lose a leg.
The U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan has been moved to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas pending a military trial. NBC's John Yang reports.
What role those incidents may have played, if any, in the shootings, remains unclear. Browne says the soldier may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Browne also said the soldier never expected a fourth deployment.
"Overnight he was told he was going back and he told his family and told me that he did what he was ordered to do 'cause he was a soldier," Browne said.
Officials are investigating reports that Bales may have been drinking before he left the base in Afghanistan on the night of the killings over the weekend. Among the dead were nine children.
Bales, a native of Ohio, has been based at Lewis-McChord his entire career. He and his family live close to Lake Tapps, a reservoir not far from the base, and have family roots in western Washington. Bales' wife is said to be an executive at a Seattle-area company.
Sgt. Robert Bales, who is suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians, is being held in a pre-trial detention center in Leavenworth, Kansas. NBC's John Yang reports.
Brown said the suspect's family will remain on base for the foreseeable future for their own protection.
The Army, in a statement obtained by NBC News, said Bales will be held in pre-trial confinement at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth. The Army described the prison as a state-of-the-art, medium/minimum custody facility for pre-trial confinement and military sentences of up to five years.
Also located on Fort Leavenworth is the Disciplinary Barracks housing military inmates sentenced to more than five years.
Bales will be in special housing in his own cell and not in a four-person bay, the Army said. He will be afforded time outside the cell for hygiene and recreational purposes. He may have religious support.
The correctional facility has a 464-bed capacity, but the Army said the inmate population is ever-changing. However, the number of inmates in pre-trial confinement is typically around one dozen, the Army said.
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