DETROIT – Several investigations have been launched into why a civilian contractor in Iraq was shot and killed by American troops as he drove toward a U.S. military checkpoint last week.
Truck driver Donald Tolfree, 52, of St. Charles, drove through a U.S. military checkpoint Feb. 5 before realizing he was in the wrong convoy, attorney Patrick Greenfelder, who represents Tolfree's daughter, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Tolfree turned around and was driving back toward the checkpoint when he was shot and killed, Greenfelder said. Tolfree was a driver for KBR, a contracting subsidiary of Halliburton Co.
The military and Halliburton announced Saturday that a civilian contractor had been killed by U.S. forces at Camp Anaconda, but did not identify the man.
"This incident is under investigation by the unit, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, as well as Kellogg, Brown, and Root," according to a military statement. "We are determined to figure out why this happened and prevent it from happening again."
Greenfelder said a KBR representative visited Tolfree's daughter, Kristen Martin, 22, of Owosso, Feb. 6 to deliver the news. The representative initially said Tolfree and another convoy driver were killed by a roadside bomb.
Later that day, the representative phoned Martin and said Tolfree was killed by U.S. forces, Greenfelder said. She later learned from news reports that the other driver had survived.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the truck driver who was killed," said Melissa Norcross, a spokeswoman for KBR. "As this matter is presently under investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."
The family wants to know if warning shots were fired, whether it was a two-way checkpoint, why Tolfree was in the wrong convoy and with whom he was communicating, if anyone, before his death at the Camp Anaconda checkpoint, about 50 miles north of Baghdad.
"The guy just cleared (the checkpoint) a couple minutes ago. What were they shooting him for?" Greenfelder said.
Norcross told The AP in an e-mail Saturday that 98 KBR employees and subcontractors have been killed and 430 have been wounded while working under government contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
As of Dec. 4, 2006, at least 673 civilian contractors were killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.