Almost ten years after the friendly fire death of former NFL star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a fellow ranger admits that he may have been the one who fired the fatal shot.
In his first public statements since the incident in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, former Army Ranger Steven Elliott told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that he has lived for 10 years with the thought that he might have killed Mr. Tillman.
"It is possible, in my mind, that I hit him," Mr. Elliott confessed. He had been engaged in his first firefight as an Army Ranger when Mr. Tillman was killed.
Mr. Tillman had left behind a $3.6 million NFL contract to fight in the war after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
The mystery behind Mr. Tillman's death has never been solved and the events leading up to his untimely death only lead to more questions.
The Army initially told Mr. Tillman's family that he had been killed by enemy fire while charging down a fill to assist fellow Rangers. However, soon after his funeral, it was revealed that an Army investigation into his death determined that he was shot by his own men.
While it is not certain that Mr. Elliot was responsible for Mr. Tillman's death, he believes the circumstances surrounding the event point to himself.
"You aim at a point, and you fire a burst. You are holding your trigger for a fraction of a second, but that fraction of a second releases three to five rounds," he told ESPN. "If it looked like you had (three) rounds and very close to one another, well, that was very consistent to how I was firing my weapon at that point. ... It would be disingenuous for me to say there is no way my rounds didn't kill him, because my rounds very well could have."
Mr. Elliot also told ESPN that other rangers had opened fire in Mr. Tillman's direction. His Squad leader, Greg Baker, had started shooting first then he and two other Rangers did the same.
"The mantra is that when all else fails you do what your team leader does, you go where your team leader goes and you shoot where your team leader shoots, and so effectively...effectively him (Baker) firing at that position is, is the same as his giving an order to fire. ... And it breaks my heart to say that, because I know that he regrets that—so much," Mr. Elliot admitted.
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