Topic: Joint Base Lewis-McChord
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October 7, 2013 at 10:03 AM
UPDATE 1:30 P.M.| Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said the three suspects arrested in connection with the Saturday fatal stabbing of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier are expected to be charged and make an initial court appearance Tuesday.
Prosecutors are still reviewing information in the case, but Lindquist said there’s a clear indication “there was only one individual who stabbed the victim.”
The roles of the other two men arrested in the case are not clear, Lindquist said. Prosecutors need to know more about what the two other men did before they can decide on the appropriate charge, Lindquist said. All three were booked into the Pierce County Jail early Monday.
Previous post:| Three suspects, all soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, were booked into the Pierce County Jail early this morning on investigation of murder in connection with Saturday’s fatal stabbing of a fellow soldier from the base.
Lakewood police said one of the suspects is 23 and two are 21.
The victim was identified Sunday as Spc. Tevin Geike, 20, of Summerville, S.C., an aviation operations specialist and a member of the 7th Infantry Division. He entered the Army in October 2010 and arrived at JBLM in April 2011.
In a news release, Lakewood police said that race is not believed to be a factor in the attack. Over the weekend, police had said they were investigating the case as a possible hate crime.
Police say the 23-year-old suspect is believed to have stabbed Geike, and his motives are not known.
On Sunday, police had said Geike’s companions told police the assailant had been in a car in which someone had yelled something about Geike and his companions being white.
In a news release this morning, Lakewood police said the arrests came after they were contacted Sunday afternoon by an Army sergeant who said he had information on the stabbing.
The sergeant said another soldier had been asked by the 23-year-old suspect for first aid for a knife wound on his right hand. The man allegedly said he had injured himself when he fatally stabbed someone.
Later, that suspect told the soldier he had cut his hand while chopping vegetables. And after the sergeant took the 23-year-old to Madigan Army Medical Center for treatment, he told hospital staffers he had cut his hand on a parachute cord, police said.
Separately, another person believed to be involved in the attack was brought in by police for an interview. He told detectives that he was in a vehicle with four of his friends driving on Pacific Highway when words were exchanged between men on the street and the people in the car, police said.
He said they stopped to talk to the victims, but nothing happened once they discovered they were all active duty soldiers.
But as the suspects were walking back to their car, the soldier said the 23-year-old suspect appeared to “bear hug” the victim and pushed him to the ground. That suspect was covered in blood when he got to the car, the soldier told police.
September 24, 2013 at 3:59 PM
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — The Department of Defense says a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was one of the three American soldiers killed Saturday in Afghanistan.
They were shot by an Afghan wearing a security forces uniform.
The three soldiers were identified Tuesday as:
- Spc. Joshua J. Strickland, 23, of Woodstock, Ga., assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
- Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins, 32, of Denver, Colo., assigned to 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Watkins, Colo.
- Sgt. Timothy R. McGill, 30, of Ramsey, N.J., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Middletown, R.I.
July 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM
The Associated Press
RENO, Nev. — The 27-year-old man police shot to death in Reno last week was an active-duty U.S. Army soldier who earned medals in Iraq and was on leave visiting family in Nevada.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Kenneth Stafford was an enlisted soldier on leave from Joint Base Lewis-McChord when he was shot and killed July 11 in a confrontation with Reno and Sparks police.
The officers, who were unharmed, are on paid administrative leave while the Washoe County sheriff’s office investigates.
A 2003 graduate of Washoe High School, Stafford enlisted in the Army in 2009. The helicopter mechanic was deployed in Iraq from February to December 2011.
Lt. Col. Joe Sowers of the 7th Infantry Division told the newspaper Stafford was in good standing in his assignment as a specialist to the 1st Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment at Fort Lewis. He said Stafford was awarded two Army commendation medals and two Army achievement medals in Iraq.
Sparks police responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun on the city’s north side about 1:40 p.m. on July 11 and Reno police soon joined in a search for the suspect.
Police say they located Stafford in the backyard of home where the owners didn’t know him and the shooting soon followed.
July 17, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Some 2,200 men and women of the 446th Airlift Wing of Joint Base Lewis-McChord recently received the Air Force Outstanding Unit award for a two-year period of accomplishments ending in September 2012.
Their accomplishments included deploying more than 100 medical specialists to Southwest Asia and moving more than 1,200 sick and wounded patients.
In 2012, the 446th flew about 5,200 passengers and more than 6 million pounds of cargo in Operation Deep Freeze, which services National Science Foundation research activities in Antarctica.
July 15, 2013 at 7:19 AM
PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd is visiting Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday to demand answers from the Army about helicopters she says “terrorized my city.”
Kidd is meeting with Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr. about unannounced training flights late Thursday night that alarmed residents, woke up children and startled livestock.
The Peninsula Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/12PUQWl ) the mayor is inviting Hodges to address the public at a Tuesday night city council meeting at City Hall.
No one notified local officials that four special forces helicopters would be flying around the Coast Guard station at Ediz Hook. Startled residents called emergency dispatch operators and said low-flying copters were circling the city.
July 8, 2013 at 10:49 AM
A Canadian man injured during a climb on Mount Rainier was rescued by an Army helicopter crew Sunday evening.
Two rescuers in an Army Reserve Chinook helicopter were dropped in to help airlift the man after he fell at the 13,800-foot level on Emmons Glacier on the east side of Mount Rainier.
The National Park Service is reporting that the man, who was part of a nine-person climbing party, sustained multiple traumatic injuries in the fall.
The incident was reported at Camp Schurman (elevation 9,440 feet) near 4 p.m. by four members of the man’s group. Rescue operations were initiated, and by 9:10 the man was in the helicopter and on his way to Madigan Army Medical Center.
The National Park Service said 33 personnel were involved in the rescue attempt, including those from the U.S. Army Reserve 214th Air Division out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Northwest Helicopters out of Olympia.
June 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM
By Adam Ashton / The News Tribune
Thousands of civilian employees at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will take unpaid days off on 11 straight Fridays in July, August and September – part of a plan intended to concentrate the impacts of Pentagon-mandated furloughs to a single day of the week.
Some details of the four-day work week are still being ironed out, but the proposal would give about 10,000 workers a reliable schedule to plan their furloughs.
A panel of Lewis-McChord Army and Air Force commanders announced the plan Monday and said the furloughs are scheduled to start taking place the week of July 8. They will hit firefighters, mechanics, doctors and many other workers who operate the city-like services at the base south of Tacoma.
About 25,000 people live on Lewis-McChord either in barracks or in base housing. About 63,000 work there in uniform or as civilians, making it Pierce County’s largest employer.
Some of the ways furloughs likely will disrupt the base this summer include: (more…)
June 5, 2013 at 9:16 AM
UPDATE 5:45 p.m: During the hearing Thursday, Bales did not offer an apology to his victims.
In a meeting with reporters after the court session, defense attorneys said this hearing did not provide an opportunity for an apology, which they say would come during the sentencing phase of the courtmartial scheduled for August. “Today was his acceptance of responsibility,” said Maj. Greg Malson, a defense co-counsel.
Afghans have expressed anger at the prospect that Bales would not receive a death sentence for the murders of 16 people.
Defense attorneys said that Bales has expressed remorse for his crimes. Malson said that “what he wants more than anything” is for Afghans to understand that other soldiers now on the ground in the Afghanistan had nothing to do with what happened in those two villages.
Emma Scanlan, another defense co-counsel, indicated that events leading up the crime, including Bales’ illegal use of at least seven ounces of hard alcohol and his use of steroids provided by Special Forces soldiers, would be brought out during the sentencing phase.
“We know all these things to be true, as does the government,” Scanlan said. “You take that with somebody on his fourth deployment and the stresses of combat and you get in some parts of the situation that you are in today.“
UPDATE 3:45 p.m: In a final session of the plea hearing, the Army judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, questioned Bales’ attorneys about their preparations for the sentencing phase of the trial scheduled for August.
The defense attorneys are considering whether to call expert witnesses that can testify about Bales’ mental health. In the weeks before the sentencing, the defense attorneys will have these possible witnesses review the results of an Army sanity board review conducted earlier this year that found Bales fit to stand trial. Emma Scanlan, a defense co-counsel, says some evidence will be provided. But it is unclear whether any of the defense’s possible expert witnesses, including a neuropsychologist, will be called to testify.
John Henry Browne, another defense co-counsel, said that his client did receive a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder from Madigan Army Medical Center.
UPDATE 2:10 p.m.: Shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, an Army judge accepted a plea deal that enables Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to avert the death penalty. As part of that agreement, during today’s hearing, Bales pled guilty to murdering 16 Afghans, and attempting to murder six others as well as b burning bodies, illegal use of steroids and drinking alcohol in violation of military regulations.
Under the terms of agreement, Bales will be sentenced to life imprisonment with – or without – the possibility of parole depending on the outcome of another phase of the courtmartial now scheduled to begin Aug. 19.
UPDATE 2 p.m.: The hearing resumed at 1:30 p.m. with the Army Judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, going over the agreement reached with prosecutors that calls for Bales to avert a death penalty as he pleads guilty to 16 murders and six attempted murders.
Bales affirmed that he did enter the agreement voluntarily. Nance, shortly before 2 p.m., said he would accept the agreement.
UPDATE 12:26 p.m.: Through the morning hearing, we have heard Bales, for the first time, speak the names of his 16 victims and acknowledge he killed them. There were nine female victims and seven male victims..
The nine female murder victims, as listed in an Army charging document, were Na’ikmarga, Gulalai, Shah Tarina, Zahrah, Naazyah, Masuma, Farida, Palwasha and Nabia.
The seven male murder victims were Khudai Dad, Nazir Mohammad, Mohammad Dawud, Ismattullah, Akhtar Mohammad, Faizullah and Issa Mohammad
The court is now recessed for a lunch break.
UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: Late in the morning, a prosecutor, Lt. Col. Jay Morse, said he was concerned about a discrepancy between a stipulation of facts that was agreed upon prior to the hearing, and what Bales has said in court.
In court, Bales said he formed the intent to kill people in the first village of Alkozai as he raised his weapon and prepared to fire on each victim.
In the stipulation, Bales said he formed the intent after an initial struggle with a grandmother, which prompted him to try to kill everyone inside the compound
The judge asked Bales for clarification, and he confirmed the version in the stipulation.
“As I entered the compound- I had a brief struggle with a woman I know now to be Na’ikmarga,” Bales said. After completing that struggle (the woman died) Bales said he decided to try to murder anyone he encountered in the compound.
The hearing is now in a brief recess.
UPDATE 11:10 a.m.: Bales said he remembers a kerosene lantern in an Afghan compound where the remains of burned bodies were later found. But he told the judge he doesn’t remember picking up the lantern and setting the bodies on fire.
That prompted some questioning from the judge.
Bales said he is now convinced from reviewing investigative reports, and listening to witness testimony at a pretrial hearing, that he did in fact use the lantern to set the bodies on fire.
Bales affirmed that he tried to murder six people who survived in the first village he visited during the March 11 rampage.
“I did intend to kill them but they survived… Sir, I did not have any legal justification to shoot them,” he told the judge.
UPDATE 10:55 a.m.: Bales has confirmed to the Army judge that he understands all of the elements of all the crimes that he is charged with, including premeditated murder. He now is going through each murder and briefly recounting the actions of each of his crimes on the morning of March 11, 2012.
“I observed a female I now know to be Palwasha,” Bales told the judge. “I formed the intent to kill Palwasha, and then I did kill her by shooting her with a firearm and burning her. This act, again sir, was without legal justification.”
He recited similar narratives for each of the 16 victims.
The judge asked Bales why he killed them.
“As far as why, I have asked that question a million times since then, and there is not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things that I did,” Bales answered.
UPDATE 10 a.m.: Nance, the Army judge, is reviewing one by one each “specification” of crimes on the charge sheet. This exercise is intended to make sure that Bales fully understands the legal elements of these crimes. Each murder victim is named as part of this review, and Bales has so far responded that he understands the charges.
ORIGINAL POST: Joint Base Lewis-McChord Staff Sgt. Robert Bales today pleaded guilty to the murders of 16 unarmed civilians — mostly women and children — in a March 2012 rampage through two villages that constituted the most serious U.S. war crimes case from Afghanistan.
If the deal is approved, the 39-year-old soldier from this Western Washington base would receive a life sentence, either with or without the possibility of parole, and avoid a possible death penalty.
Bales appeared in the courtroom in his Class A blue uniform, flanked by attorneys, and answered several questions from the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, in a clear firm voice. The pleas were entered by his attorney, Emma Scanlan, and included guilty pleas to charges that he murdered 16 Afghans, assaulted six others, burned bodies and illegally used a steroid.
Scanlan entered a plea of not guilty to the charge that Bales attempted to impede an investigation into the case by damaging a laptop computer.
At the time off the crimes, Bales was on his fourth deployment to a combat zone.
In a sentencing phase of the trial scheduled later this year, defense attorney John Henry Browne said, his client will argue that there were numerous mitigating factors and that he should be sentenced with the option of parole.
The earliest that Bales would be eligible to be considered for parole would be after serving 10 years in prison.
The prospect of Bales avoiding a death penalty angers some of the survivors in Afghanistan, who did not want him tried in the United States.
“We ask that the governments of Afghanistan and USA that the criminal be brought here for justice. We want to see him hung,” said Mohammad Wazir, an Afghan who lost 11 members of his family to the killings, in an interview last year with Lela Ahmadzai, a journalist who produced a web documentary on the massacre for the Germany-based 2470 media.
May 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM
Adam Ashton/The News Tribune
An Army judge on Thursday handed down the toughest sentence he could to a soldier who murdered five fellow service members at a Baghdad combat stress clinic four years ago.
Sgt. John Russell will serve life without parole for shooting to death two care providers, two patients and an escort at the clinic in Baghdad’s Camp Liberty on May 11, 2009. (more…)
February 20, 2013 at 9:13 AM
Documents obtained by USA Today give a state-by-state breakdown of the furloughs and financial impact related to the military, if Congress does not alter the current sequestration plan scheduled to take effect next month.
In terms of Army cuts, Washington state would be hit 11th-hardest hit in the nation. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, if Congress changes nothing, a $341 million annual cut would be ordered, according to the Army. More than 11,000 jobs statewide would be affected by furloughs (of more than 200,000 nationally), a figure that the Army says includes, not only immediate civilian furloughs, but jobs related to military spending. President Barack Obama has exempted military personnel from furloughs.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress on Wednesday that if the cuts take effect in March 1, he may be compelled to furlough the “vast majority” of the Defense Department’s 800,000 civilian workers.
More from The Associated Press: Panetta also said the across-the-board spending reductions would “put us on a path toward a hollow force,” meaning a military incapable of fulfilling all of its missions.
In a written message to employees, Panetta said he notified members of Congress on Wednesday that if the White House and Congress cannot strike a deficit reduction deal before March 1 to avoid the furloughs, all affected workers will get at least 30 days’ advance notice.
The furloughs would be part of broad spending cuts the Pentagon would implement in order to achieve $46 billion in reductions through the end of this budget year, which ends Sept. 30. More cuts would come in future years as long as the automatic government spending cuts, known as sequestration, remained in effect.
In the event of sequestration we will do everything we can to be able to continue to perform our core mission of providing for the security of the United States, but there is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force,” Panetta wrote.
Pentagon officials have said their furloughs would be structured so that nearly all 800,000 workers lose one day of work per week for 22 weeks, probably starting in late April. That means they would lose 20 percent of their pay over that period.
The Pentagon has begun discussing details of the furloughs with defense worker union officials.
House Speaker John Boehner put the blame on Obama and said he agrees with Panetta that automatic spending cuts would devastate the military.
Boehner released a copy of Panetta’s letter formally notifying Congress that the Pentagon will have to consider furloughing a large portion of its civilian workforce if sequestration kicks in.
The furloughs contemplated by this notice will do real harm to our national security,” Panetta wrote in his congressional notification letter, adding that it would make troops less ready for combat and slow the acquisition of important weapons.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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