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Wilmington man one of five Americans gunned down in Baghdad

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Navy Commander Charles Keith Springle, was one of five Americans gunned down in a military counseling clinic in Baghdad by a fellow American. Springle was based at Camp Lejeune but called Wilmington home, according to the Defense Department.

Keith Springle posted pictures to his Classmates.com profile Saturday. Two days later, he was dead.

Springle grew up in Beaufort, North Carolina, next door to Al Dudley. “I saw it on the news yesterday. It was tragic just listening, knowing it happened to a stranger. But then at 8:30 last night when we found out it was one of our own in the neighborhood, it was like getting struck by lightning,” described Dudley.

During a tour of the combat stress center that Lt. Col. Beth Salisbury took ABC News on just days ago, she introduced us to one of her clinical staff at Camp Liberty. “This is Commander Springle, one of our providers. He is PhD social worker that works here,” she said. It was in this office where Commander Keith Springle treated soldiers for combat stress, anger management and suicidal tendencies, and it is this very office where he likely died; shot to death by a patient.

The 52-year-old Navy commander was married 26 years, with a son and daughter. In a web posting from January, Springle said, “I have begun another deployment, this time to Iraq, where I will work in a combat stress center. Our son returned from Iraq in October…”

Charged with Springle’s murder and four others Tuesday was Sgt. John Michael Russell, with just six weeks left in his third deployment to Iraq.

Russell’s father said his son had gotten into a dispute with two superior officers in April and was then taken against his will for treatment at the combat stress center. “When the military turned against him, he didn’t have any recourse,” said Wilburn Russell. “I guess he thought his life was over. I guess he just broke, he didn’t know how to ask for help.”

Help that Keith Springle was trying to give.

The US military command is now looking into whether it offers adequate mental health care to its soldiers who are fighting wars on two fronts.

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Story summary

videoNavy Commander Charles Keith Springle, was one of five Americans gunned down in a military counseling clinic in Baghdad by a fellow American. Springle was based at Camp Lejeune but called Wilmington home.

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