Soldier in Afghan Killings Involved in Drunken Brawl

The U.S. Army staff sergeant held in the killings of 17 Afghan civilians was involved in a drunken altercation with a woman and her boyfriend in 2008 after making comments about her, a police report and the woman involved say.

Robert Bales, 38, wasn’t charged in the incident outside a bowling alley in Tacoma, Washington, near the Joint Base Lewis- McChord where he was stationed, according to police and court records.

Records from the Pierce County, Washington, Sheriff’s Department show that deputies were summoned after Myra Jo Irish, then 54, accused Bales of assaulting her and her boyfriend outside Paradise Valley Bowl on April 5, 2008.

“He was definitely drunk,” Irish, a caregiver who lives in Tacoma, said in a telephone interview. “I went outside to smoke a cigarette. He grabbed my hand and put it on his crotch, and he assaulted my boyfriend.”

The incident is the second alleged assault reported since Bales was identified as the soldier who allegedly killed 17 civilians, including women and children, in two villages in southern Afghanistan on March 11.

Police and court records released earlier this week show that Bales received a deferred sentence in 2002 after he was charged with assaulting a guard at a Tacoma casino. He paid a $300 fine and completed an anger-management course in that incident, which also involved alcohol, according to police and court records.

Bowling Alley

In the 2008 incident, Irish told deputies that she was standing outside the bowling alley with her boyfriend, then 45- year-old Eric Robert Cummings, when Bales complimented her on her appearance.

Cummings demanded an apology from Bales, who responded by pulling Irish’s hand to his crotch, the report states. A fight broke out between the two men, and Bales punched and kicked Cummings and knocked him to the ground, according to the police report.

“He jumped on my boyfriend and tried to fight. Then the security guard separated them, the police were called and so forth,” Irish said.

Cummings wasn’t injured in the incident, police said in the report.

According to the police report, Irish and Cummings initially said they didn’t want to file charges in the matter and later changed their minds and said they did.

A deputy contacted the two after the incident and found that they hadn’t yet completed written-statement forms, the police report says. In the interview, Irish said she completed a police report and didn’t hear back about it.

A sheriff’s department spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Pierce County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney spokeswoman Rebecca Stover wasn’t available for comment after business hours.

To contact the reporters on this story: James Nash in Los Angeles at jnash24@bloomberg.net; Alison Vekshin in San Francisco at avekshin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey Taylor at jtaylor48@bloomberg.net

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