Neighbors of a Washington state man accused of gunning down 16 Afghan women and children in a nighttime rampage describe him as a family man, playing with his two kids outside his home. (March 16)
[SOT/]Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' rural home in Lake Tapps, WA about 20 miles outside Tacoma. Neighbor supers in order of appearance: Kassie HollandBeau Britt [Notes:AP Wire] LAKE TAPPS, Wash. (AP) _ Neighbors of a Washington state man accused of gunning down 16 Afghan women and children in a nighttime rampage describe him as a family man, playing with his two kids outside his home. Reporters swarmed a neighborhood in a rural, wooded community about 35 miles south of Seattle, as attorney John Henry Browne confirmed the suspect, his client, was Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales from Lake Tapps, Wash. Five days after the shooting, a senior U.S. official first confirmed Friday it was Bales, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation into an incident that has roiled relations with Afghanistan. Military officials had said throughout the week that it was policy not to release the name until charges were filed. Kassie Holland, who lives next door, said she would often see Bales playing with his two kids and the family together at the modern split-level home. "My reaction is that I'm shocked," she said. "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." "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." Bales has not yet been charged. He was being flown Friday from Kuwait to a military detention center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the military's only maximum-security prison. Military officials say the soldier received sniper training and is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is based at Lewis-McChord and has been dispatched to Iraq three times since 2003. "I kind of sympathize for him, being gone, being sent over there four times," 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."