Exclusive: Blackwater Turret Gunner 'Paul': Why I Opened Fire in Baghdad

The Blackwater gunner says he feared for his life when he started shooting.

ByABC News
November 14, 2007, 1:02 PM

Nov. 14, 2007— -- A 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran hired by Blackwater last year is at the center of the investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting incident that killed at least 17 civilians, U.S. officials say.

Identified in government documents with a first name of "Paul," he was the turret gunner on a Blackwater security detail that day and repeatedly fired at perceived enemy targets, including a bus, according to a sworn statement he gave to State Department investigators three days after the incident.

In the statement, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, "Paul" says he feared for his life when, as a turret gunner, he opened fire on multiple vehicles and individuals.

The FBI has concluded at least 14 of the deaths were unjustified, according to The New York Times, and the case is reportedly focusing on "turret gunner 3."

In his statement, "Paul," a veteran of U.S. Army deployments in Bosnia and Iraq, describes a scene sharply at odds with the reported initial findings of the FBI investigation.

Read the Full Statement. (The date on the original document is incorrect; the incident took place on Sept. 16.)

The turret gunner told investigators that a white car was driving "directly at our motorcade" and that the driver "looked directly at me and kept moving toward our motorcade," ignoring what he said were "hand signals and yelling" for the driver to stop.

"Fearing for my life and the lives of my teammates, I engaged the driver and stopped the threat," the Blackwater guard said in his statement.