The Army soldier who allegedly shot and killed his battalion commander at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Thursday was facing court martial and possible discharge from the Army on criminal charges, U.S. military officials told NBC News. The Army specialist, whose identity has not been released, was also shot and critically wounded, and is not expected to survive.
According to officials, the specialist walked up to his battalion commander, a Lieutenant Colonel, and without warning pulled a pistol and shot the commander three times in the head and twice in the chest. Other soldiers rushed the shooter, who was shot in the head in the ensuing struggle and critically wounded, officials said. A third soldier also suffered a minor gunshot wound.
Officials said the shooter had been an Army specialist for 8 years, and was accused of stealing a tool box worth $1,700 from Fort Bragg motor pool, and was in line for a special court martial on criminal charges. That specialist had also been a member of the security detail in Afghanistan for the officer killed Thursday.
The soldier shot his commander during a safety brief – in this case, a 10- to 15-minute lecture about staying safe for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.
“This is a tragedy for our community,” Col. Kevin Arata, spokesman for Fort Bragg, said at a press conference. “We don’t yet know the reasons for the shooting, but are working with the unit and the affected families to help them through this difficult period.”
Special agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation team were on site Thursday evening.
Msnbc.com's Isolde Raftery contributed to this report.
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