Heller asks for investigation in death of Nevada soldier
RENO ” Rep. Dean Heller asked the Pentagon on Monday to open a new U.S. Army investigation into the death of a Nevada soldier killed in Iraq two years ago to determine if he may have been a victim of friendly fire.
An Army investigation determined Pfc. Roger Suarez-Gonzalez of Carson City and Pfc. Albert Nelson of Philadelphia were killed by enemy mortar rounds while their platoon was on patrol Dec. 4, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq.
But Heller, R-Nev., said in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that video and audio recordings of the incident reported by online news services pose “serious questions” about how they were killed and whether friendly fire may have been involved.
“In light of this evidence, a new investigation is warranted to find the facts about what happened on that dreadful day. The family of Pfc. Suarez-Gonzalez deserves to know the truth,” Heller wrote.
Christopher Grey, spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Roger Suarez of Carson City, father of the 21-year-old soldier, said he received an Army report in September that concluded Suarez-Gonzalez and Nelson were killed by two enemy mortar rounds.
The father said he never understood the report and now doubts it because of an article Salon.com published on Oct. 14 that suggests they died from a U.S. tank shell.
The article was based on eyewitness accounts and on video and audio recorded by a soldier’s helmet-mounted camera that captured the incident that day.
According to Salon.com, the video shows soldiers just after the blast claiming to have watched the tank fire on them. It also indicates a sergeant tried to report over a radio that a U.S. tank killed his men.
Suarez told the Nevada Appeal last month that he wanted the Army to reopen an investigation into the deaths but didn’t know how to go about it.
“Why they don’t tell me the truth?” Why they lie to me? Nobody gives me answers,” he said.