Identity of Soldier in Afghan Attack Revealed
Neighbors Says He was "just one of the guys."
Upon learning the identity of the Washington state man accused of gunning down 16 Afghan women and children in a nighttime rampage, neighbors told the media they were shocked to learn that family man who was “just one of the guys,” could commit such an act.
Military officials confirmed Friday that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales from Lake Tapps, Wash was the suspect involved in the murders.
One next-door neighbor told media, "I just can't believe Bob's the guy who did this … a good guy got put in the wrong place at the wrong time. ... I never thought something like this would happen to him."
Another neighbor, Kassie Holland, said, "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."
She added, "My reaction is that I'm shocked, 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.
Bale’s attorney said when the 11-year veteran heard he was being sent to Afghanistan late last year he did not want to go. He had enlisted about two months after the Sept. 11 attacks and had since been deployed a number of four times, the last in Afghanistan.
On the day of the attacks, Bale -- wearing a NATO forces uniform, barged into Afghan homes and opened fire on those inside, then burned some of the bodies. Nine children were killed. Eleven of the dead were from a single family.
"I kind of sympathize for him, being gone, being sent over there four times," said Beau Britt, who lives across the street. "I can understand he's probably quite wracked mentally, so I just hope that things are justified in court. I hope it goes OK."
Reactions on Facebook and Twitter show there have been a variety of reactions from the public since Bale’s identity was revealed. Some condemn him and called him a terrorist, while others called him a war hero who should not have been deployed to Afghanistan after serving three times in Iraq. Others offered condolences to him and his family.