According to an Afghan guard at the base who spoke to the BBC, the soldier who conducted a massacre outside Kandahar last night, left his base twice, returning for an hour and a half after the first stage in his killing spree only to head out again for another two hours.
An official told ABC News that the soldier has suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the past, either from hitting his head on the hatch of a vehicle or in a car accident. He went through the advanced TBI treatment at Fort Lewis and was deemed to be fine.
He also underwent mental health screening necessary to become a sniper and passed in 2008. He had routine behavioral health screening after that and was cleared, the official said.
When the soldier returned from his last deployment in Iraq he had difficulty reintegrating, including marital problems, the source told ABC News. But officials concluded that he had worked through those issues before deploying to Afghanistan.
The shooting occurred at 3 a.m. in three houses in two villages in the Panjway district of southern Kandahar province, an area that was once a Taliban safe haven but has recently become more safe after a surge of troops in 2009.
The soldier left the base in the middle of the night and wore night-vision goggles during the alleged rampage, according to a source.
The first village was more than a mile south of the base. While there, he allegedly killed four people in the first house. In the second house, he allegedly killed 11 family members — four girls, four boys and three adults.
He then walked back to another village past his base where he allegedly killed one more person, according to a member of the Afghan investigation team and ABC News’ interviews with villagers.
BBC News reports: Initial reports said that the soldier simply walked to the villages, which were located about 500 (546 yds) from the military base in Panjwai district.
But local journalists say that the villages of Najeeban and Alkozai are about 5-7km (3-4 miles) apart. This immediately raises questions about accounts which said he completed his deadly circuit on foot.
An Afghan guard at the Nato base told the BBC that the soldier left the base twice. He returned at 00:30 local time (20:00 GMT) after the first trip out and was out between 02:00 and 04:00 for the second trip.