6 - Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Iraq vet pleads guilty to
killing fellow soldiers
Workers stand anong debris April 21 four days after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas s
911 calls Capture terror
ofexas plant explosion
admits to killing
five at clinic
JOINT BASE LEWIS-
MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) - An
Army sergeant pleaded guilty
Monday to killing four other sol-
diers and aNavy officer in 2009 at
mental health clinic in Baghdad
during the Iraq War, describing
how he gunned down the men
and saying he was in a "rage"
when he began his rampage.
The plea agreement in a mili-
tary court at Joint Base Lew-
is-McChord means Sgt. John
Russell will avoid the death sen-
tence. His maximum sentence
would be a life term. He testified
Monday to persuade Army judge
Col. David Conn to accept the
agreement. Conn agreed.
Russell - who is from Sher-
man, Texas - went on a shooting
spree at the Camp Liberty Com-
bat Stress Center near Baghdad in
May 2009. Itwas one of the worst
instances of soldier-on-soldier
violence in the Iraq war.
In court, Russell said he was in
a "rage" when he opened fire.
"I wanted the pain to stop,"
he testified in court at JointsBase
Lewis-McChord,, talking in a
husky voice. He read a written
statement detailing his memories
of the killings.
Russell was nearing the end of
his third tour when his behavior
changed, members of his unit
testified in 2009. They said he
became more distant in the days
before the May 11, 2009, attack
and that he seemed paranoid
that his unit was tryingto end his
On May 8, Russell sought
help at a combat stress clinic at
Camp Stryker, where his unit
was located. On May 10, Russell
was referred to the Camp Liberty
clinic, where he received counsel-
ing and prescription medication.
The following day witnesses
saw Russell crying and talking
about hurting himself. He went
back to the Camp Liberty clin-
ic, where a doctor told him he
needed to get help or he would
hurt himself Russell tried to sur-
render to military police to lock
him up so he wouldn't hurt him-
self or others, witnesses said.
WEST, Texas (AP) - When
the first call came in, it was
just a fire. Smoke was coming
from West Fertilizer Co. and
an alarm was sounding, so a
woman at a park just across
the railroad tracks called 911.
She was calm and matter of
fact. The dispatcher respondeed
in kind: "OK, I'm going to get
them to put out the fire."
It was 7:29 p.m. April 17,
and the last routine moment in
West, Texas, since.
Within 20 minutes, the park
was stre wn with two-foot
chunks i) Fconcrete from the
exploded fertilizer plarnt. The
apartment coniplex behind it
was ripped apart by the wave
of energy that climbed the rail-
road bed and slannned into the
building, shredding its roof and
blowing out windows.
Dispatchers swere swamped
withhysterical reports. Nearly all
50 calls that flooded in durinthe
next 35 minutes came from with-
in a mile of the plant. Some knew
what happened, others knew only
that windows had suddenly shat-
tered on them and houses several
blocks from the site were on fire.
Firefighters and EMTs
would account for 10 of 14 peo-
ple killed, and more than 200
people in the town of 2,800
would be counted as injured.
State and federal investiga-
tors continued combing the site
Monday looking for the cause of
the blast so powerful it registered
as small earthquake. They had
found the center of the explosion
a day earlier, but not the fire's
Recordings show fears ran
rampant among those who called
911 last Wednesday night.
One woman who glanced out-
side andsaw the mushroomcloud
that erupted from the blast could
be heard shouting: "Getoout of the
house. Get out," to those around
her. "There's a freaking cloud.
Look at that!" An off-duty fire-
fighter concerned about the air
called a second time to saylhe was
leaving with his family. A man
wearina mn ankle monitor told
a dispatcher as he drove that he
was fleeing the chemicals.
Investigators later assured
residents the town's air was not
Calls from those further
away relate terror of the
unknown. Dispatcheys asked
callers to take deep breaths and
repeat the unintelligible.
"Something happened out
here," a crying 83-year-old
woman tells the operator, her
voice quavering. "Our house
exploded or something. There
was abigexplosion and then our
house is just destroyed.
"We're all ok, but my God,
what has happened?" she said.
"tom scared to death."
Residents and dispatchers
soon realized the enormity of
the situation. One woman who
called about a house burning on
her street was asked if she lived
close to the fertilizer plant. But
she said she was several blocks
Less than five minutes after
the first explosion call,dispatch-
ers also knew West's own emer-
gency resources were severely
Nicaragua nabs U.S. most-
wanted child porn suspect
after months of
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) -
Police in Nicaraguahave detained
a former U.S. school teacher who
was on the FBI's 10 most-wanted
fugitives as a suspect in a child
authorities confirmed Monday.
Eric Justin Toth was detained
Saturday in Esteli, a city near
Nicaragua's border with Hon-
duras, and will be immediately
deported to the United States,
said National Police chief Amin-
"Toth will be deported imme-
diately because he was in our
country illegally," Granera said at
a news conference in Managua,
She said Toth entered Nicara-
gua with a false passport and also
had a fake driver's license and
Toth was being handed over
to FBI agents present at the news
conference and they planned to
take him to the U.S. in a special
plane, Granera said.
A thin and nervous-looking
Toth dressed in cream-colored
shirt and pants was briefly pre-
sented to journalists and photog-
raphers who took his picture, but
he wasn't allowed to talk and was
Granera said Toth first entered
Nicaragua on Oct. 24, 2012, and
left on Jan. 27. He returned on
Feb. 12 and that's when Nicara-
guan police began keeping a close
watch, she said.
"He was captured in a house in
the Panama Soberana neighbor-
hood in Esteli, even though he
resisted," Granera said.
Toth taught third grade at
Beauvoir, a private elementary
school on the grounds of the
Washington National Cathedral.
He was escorted off campus in
June 2008 after another teacher
reported finding sexually explicit
photographs on a school camera
in Toth's possession. He had not
been seen since he lost his job.
In a statement, the school
commended the work of U.S.
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