Deputy shoots 2 soldiers, killing 1


Sheriff’s Dept: Deputy thought they were going to kill him

ROBBINS, N.C., Feb. 24 — A sheriff’s deputy shot two Fort Bragg soldiers, killing one, after the two soldiers, both in civilian clothing, tried to disarm the deputy because they thought he was taking part in a role-playing training exercise, authorities said Sunday. The Moore County Sheriff’s Department said the deputy was “totally unaware” of the exercise.

    THE SOLDIERS were taking part in a role-playing exercise that is part of the Special Forces Qualification Course, according to a statement from the Moore County Sheriff’s Department. They were carrying weapons, but they do not carry live ammunition during the exercise, Maj. Richard Patterson of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School told The Fayetteville Observer.

     “The two soldiers were not in uniform. For various scenarios within the exercise, that’s not uncommon,” said a Special Forces spokesman. “They were going out to do reconnaissance of a target that was going to be used for a future mission in the exercise,” the spokesman said.

    The newspaper reported that the soldiers were in a vehicle that was stopped by Deputy Randall Butler on a rural road northwest of Robbins on Saturday afternoon. Robbins is about 25 miles from the Fort Bragg reservation.

    “One of the soldiers attempted to disarm the officer as the other was attempting to get a military weapon that the soldiers had in their possession,” a statement from the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said. “The deputy believed that the two individuals intended on killing him.”

    The Army said in a news release Sunday evening that the incident was a mistake. Civilians and authorities are often asked to assist in the training exercises, said Special Operations spokesman Major Gary Kolb.

    Kolb said the soldiers were carrying a disassembled M-4 carbine rifle in a bag. It was unclear why Butler pulled their car over.

    The Moore County Sheriff’s Office was told a training exercise was underway, Kolb said. But he said the Army did not coordinate specifically with the sheriff’s office and Butler was likely unaware of it.

    “In this instance, they were not informed about this, because the scenario itself was not intended to draw attention of the local authorities,” Kolb said.

In its release, the sheriff’s department said Butler was “totally unaware” of the exercise.

No charges had been filed Sunday. Butler was placed on administrative leave with pay.

    The soldiers were in a vehicle driven by a civilian who was playing the role of a resident of a fictitious country, Patterson said. He wouldn’t discuss further details of the incident because it was being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Army.

     “It was definitely a misunderstanding, but we’re still looking at the procedures and actions taken. We can’t lay blame on anyone right now,” said the Special Forces spokesman.

    The exercise, known as “Robin Sage,” is the 19-day final exam of the Special Forces Qualification Course. It tests skills in survival, tactics and dealing with people, as well as judgment, decision-making and ethics.

    In previous Robin Sage sessions, law enforcement officials have helped the military by setting up road blocks. There was no immediate indication whether Butler was helping with Saturday’s exercise.

    Patterson said the names of the dead and wounded soldiers wouldn’t be released until their relatives were notified.

    The wounded soldier was listed in serious condition at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, according to the sheriff’s department.

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