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Shooting Death Near US Special Operations Army Post: First Reports Are Not Always Accurate

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My own inquiry shows so far that this tragedy was incredibly sad, but not nefarious.

ANALYSIS by Susan Katz Keating

I frequently remind readers that when following current events, be mindful that first reports often are incomplete, misleading, or even wrong. This is one of those times.

Alarming news emerged Thursday night that civilian and military officials were investigating a mysterious shooting near Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg) North Carolina, wherein a foreign man was shot to death on property where an active duty Army officer lived.

According to the news reports, the foreigner was from Chechnya, and was taking photographs on the Army officer’s property on the night of May 3. The Chechen carried no identification, and became belligerent when the Army officer confronted him in a wooded section of the property. An altercation ensued, and a shooting occurred. The Chechen, 35-year-old Ramzan Daraev, died. The incident was tragic, but also seemed particularly alarming; Fort Liberty is home to some of the nation’s most elite fighting forces from U.S. Special Operations Command.

The report I cited, above, is not wrong. The informal rumor mill, however, swung into ultra high gear.

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Frightening questions emerged. Why were Daraev and another Chechen, Dzhankutov Adsalan, in the neighborhood? Did they really work for a power company, as they claimed; or was something nefarious at work? Was the Army officer deliberately targeted; and are other Special Operations forces at risk?

These are serious, important questions.

But the answers may show a far different picture than expected. It turns out that Mr. Daraev did work for a power company, but he was a contractor. He did not arrive on the property while driving a clearly marked company truck and wearing an obvious company uniform. He was not fluent in English. He may not have had the cultural understanding of how to proceed while on private property in the United States. He perhaps did not know how to act when confronted by a property owner who saw not a worker, but an intruder.

My own inquiry shows so far that this tragedy was incredibly sad, but not nefarious. It emerged from a confluence of factors. Ones that were exacerbated by a language barrier and the encroaching darkness.

More will emerge in the coming days. The final picture, I believe, will show how things unfolded when two men encountered one another May 3 in the woods of North Carolina. The picture will be overwhelmingly sad, but will be different from what the first reports implied.

The Moore County Sheriff’s office is leading the investigation.

Susan Katz Keating is the publisher and editor in chief at Soldier of Fortune.

About Susan Katz Keating

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