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2003-04-27 - 4:39 p.m.

Marine Discusses Execution-Style Killing


Saturday, April 26, 2003 Last updated 4:46 p.m. PT
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAS VEGAS -- Military officials are investigating a Marine who says he shot an Iraqi soldier twice in the back of the head following a grenade attack on his comrades.

The Marine Forces Reserve announced the preliminary inquiry of Gunnery Sgt. Gus Covarrubias on Friday, the day the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an interview in which he described the killing.

Covarrubias, 38, of Las Vegas, said that during an intense battle in Baghdad on April 8, he pursued a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard who fired a rocket-propelled grenade at his unit. Covarrubias said he received a concussion in the attack and several other Marines also were injured.

Covarrubias, a 20-year Marine veteran, said he found the soldier inside a nearby home with the grenade launcher by his side. Covarrubias said he ordered the man to stop and forced him to turn around.

"I went behind him and shot him in the back of the head. Twice," Covarrubias told the Review-Journal.

He said he also shot the man's partner, who tried to escape. He showed what he said were the men's ID cards.

"I'm not vindictive, and I might get in trouble for telling you this, but I take it very personally when you do that to my family," Covarrubias said. "The Marines are my family."

The Marine Forces Reserve said the preliminary inquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service will determine whether Covarrubias "met the established rules of engagement and complied with the law of war," and whether a formal investigation is warranted.

Calls to Covarrubias' home and knocks at the door went unanswered Friday.

Marine reservist Sgt. Michael Dunn, who fought alongside Covarrubias and was injured in the battle, said he stands by him "100 percent."

"If he wouldn't have done it, those guys probably would've come back and killed or severely injured other Marines," Dunn said. "He did the right thing."

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