By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Nelson steps back and, according to the interview, watches as Nazario kicks the man in the groin twice. Using a personal radio with an earpiece mounted inside his helmet, Nazario then reports that 3rd Squad has taken four prisoners and found weapons. The conversation occurs on a radio channel used only by squad leaders and their commanders, so the transmissions aren't audible to the men in the room. Nelson watches as the sergeant's expression changes.
"What the fuck, nigga? I know you was on the radio. What'd they say?" Nelson recalls saying.
Nazario makes contact with his radio again. "'They said, 'Are they dead yet? Because we don't have all day.'"
Meanwhile, in his own interview with Fox, Carlisle recalls going back to the room, an office, where he and Prentice find the first rifle.
"That's when I heard the first gunshot and that's when I came out to see what had happened," Carlisle says. He knows from the gun's report that it is a 9 mm pistol. When he steps out of the office, he sees Weemer standing there with his pistol in his hand. "He went for my weapon," Weemer says of one of the prisoners, according to Carlisle's recollection.
Nelson describes a very different sequence of events: After receiving the radio order, Nazario pulls a prisoner from the ground and marches him to a kitchen.
"I heard the window shatter when he shot," Nelson remembers. He walks over to look at the body; it's of the oldest man in the group. "He shot him right in his fuckin' eyeball," Nelson says.
Nazario supposedly walks out of the kitchen livid: "Yo, I just did one. Now I'm not doin' all this shit by myself," Nelson recalls him saying. "So you're gonna do one and Weemer's gonna fuckin' do one and I'm gonna do another one."
Carlisle remembers appearing with Prentice in the middle of Nazario's discussion with his men. As he comes onto the scene, Carlisle looks down to see the body of the old man lying in the kitchen, his head circled by a pool of blood, and pans over to the three remaining prisoners lined up in the living room. One of the Marines asks Prentice "if he wanted to participate in shooting one of [the prisoners]," Carlisle recalls. Prentice is still upset about Lance Corporal Segura's death a few hours earlier and, Carlisle says, "he wanted to shoot one of them." But Carlisle dissuades Prentice, telling him "that he didn't want to do that."
Carlisle and Prentice try to exit through the home's front door. Another shot rings out. Confusion rolls through Carlisle's mind. "I knew I needed to get out of there," he remembers. He and Prentice turn back and walk past the prisoners in the living room; Carlisle glimpses the two survivors. "I do remember the individuals' faces," he tells Agent Fox. "They were, um, well, they'd just seen their buddy get shot and their faces wasn't exactly, um . . . I mean, they were pretty somber." Corporal Weemer meets Carlisle and Prentice and says, "We need to get out of here." Before the men make it to the building's back door, two more shots ring out.
Nelson's recollection doesn't match that version. He doesn't recall Carlisle or Prentice being present, other than to drop off the AK-47s the two had discovered. The only men he remembers being in the room are himself, Nazario and Weemer. He tells Agent Fox that after Nazario executes the first prisoner, Nelson fears what will happen if he refuses Nazario's order. Nazario gets in his face and Nelson pulls a prisoner aside. At this moment, each of the Marines — Weemer, Nazario and Nelson — controls a prisoner.
Nelson remembers what was going through his mind: "I was gonna wait to see if he was really serious about this shit."
Nazario, according to Nelson, then shoots a prisoner at point-blank range with the muzzle pressed to his forehead. The man falls, but blood and brain matter pour across the floor. "I didn't want this motherfucker's brains and shit all on my boots," Nelson recalls Nazario saying. "Hurry up," he orders Weemer and Nelson.
Standing over his prisoner, who is kneeling in front of him, Weemer fires multiple shots from his pistol, according to Nelson. "He was just lettin' it ring," Nelson recalls. The prisoner crumples to the floor and rolls with the impact of the bullets.
"So, I'm like, well fuck it, you know, I guess," Nelson tells Agent Fox. "That's when I fuckin' — I shot my guy."
Outside, Carlisle finds his way back to the platoon's formation. He passes a Marine who asks what had happened. Carlisle can only muster an "I don't know." But his mind reels. "I was still trying to process 'Okay, what could I have done?' but there wasn't anything I could've done," he tells Agent Fox.
Nelson follows the rest of the squad outside moments later and bumps into a friend, Pedro Garcia from Weapons Company, the unit that Nelson has been drawn from. "Dog, I'm not a bad person. You saw what happened," Nelson tells him. "He gave us the order to do this shit." He recalls that Garcia "looked like he was about to cry and shit."
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