More On Those Photoshopped Soldiers

They were shot by one of their own

According to a September 22 article in the Army Times, the two soldiers whose photos were doctored by the U.S. Army were shot and killed by a fellow solider on Sept. 14.

The article reads:

A 1 a.m. counseling session at a small outpost in Iraq took a fatal turn Sept. 14, Army officials say, when the soldier being counseled opened fire with his M4 on a fellow team leader and their squad leader.

Kevin Larson, spokesman for the Fort Stewart Army base in Georgia, told CJR that the name of the shooter, a non-commissioned officer from the same unit, will not be released until he arrives in the United States and is officially charged. Currently, he is en route to the base from a detention center in Kuwait.

The victims, Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson, 24, and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, 26, were stationed a few miles south of Baghdad in the city of Tunnis. The Department of Defense classified their deaths as the result of “wounds sustained in a non-hostile incident.”

A article from Sept 18 voiced the frustrations of Dawson’s family. According to the article, the family said “the military has told them nothing about the incident: no details on his death, no information at all.”

Details of the shooting will be confirmed depending on whether the shooter is charged, according to Larson. However, the Army Times reported the shooting occurred during a “counseling session,” while an article from the Pensacola News Journal states the soldiers were killed during a “performance review.”

When asked about the Photoshopped pictures of the deceased soldiers, Larson told CJR:

We trusted in the unit to provide [the photos of the soldiers]. We took them at face value and had no intent to deceive the public. We […] didn’t question the validity of the photos, since we [Army and Department of Defense] adhere to the same standards that journalists do, in that respect.

We’ll be following this story.

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Megan McGinley is an intern at CJR.