Father of Soldier in Iraq ‘Fratricide’ Case Speaks, Reveals Key Details

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By: Greg Mitchell

In his first interview, and providing key details, Wilburn Russell, father of Sgt. John M. Russell, accused of killing five fellow soldiers in Iraq yesterday, revealed to a local North Texas TV reporter today that his son?s job in Iraq was an electronic technician who, among other things, used robots to detonate roadside bombs.

?He thought he was saving lives, thought he was doing some good,? John Russell said, in a raw, unedited video.

Referring to the treatment of his son at the stress clinic where the shootings took place, Russell said, ?They don?t do the best job of taking care of the soldiers, both in the service and when they get out of the service, we know that. They use them.? He added: ?They broke him. He thought his life was over.?

He also confirmed a report that his son was disarmed and sent away from the stress clinic after a ?rhubarb? with others there, only to take a gun from a minder and return for the deadly shootout.

The father, of Grayson County, Texas, told KTEN TV, in the raw video posted at the station?s web site, that after the ?rhubarb? they put Sgt. Russell ?in a vehicle with a guy with a gun, and, well — they’d trained him to kill — and he took a gun? and returned to the clinic.

Russell said that his son, on his third tour of duty in Iraq, had told his wife just days ago that two officers had threatened him, calling May 5 and 6 ?the two worst days of my life.?

He had been ?scheduled for a stress test? and apparently felt that the military was attempting to ?drum him out? of the service when this enlistment was up. ?They broke him,? Wilburn Russell said over and over. “He didn?t know how to ask for help. When they go to the stress center and ask for help they belittle them because they ask for help.”

For the interview he stood in front of he house he said that his son had bought and was paying $1,600 a month on, and hinted he possibly worried about making future payments. The sergeant has a wife and son. He had sent e-mail greetings on mother’s day, saying he was looking forward to visiting in July.

One cause of the rampage, his father said, may have been that his son was ?very quiet, he could not articulate well, could not resolve his differences verbally. … You never know what triggers it, you just know they are under a lot of stress and he just didn?t know how to handle it.?

He said he hoped that the Pentagon and the president find out what really caused him to snap, but doubted the full story would come out because officers would cover up documents about his treatment by the clinic. He added, after noting his son was up on capital charges, ?I hope they find out he had a mental breakdown and hopefully he will live.”

Check out the video here.

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