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Four Navy SEALs, Marine Raiders charged with killing Green Beret in Mali strangling

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group conduct urban warfare training during Emerald Warrior 17 at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 7, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Barry Loo)
November 15, 2018

The U.S. Navy has charged four service members for the 2017 killing of Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.

Felony murder charges against two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders were announced Thursday, in addition to conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary charges, NBC News reported.

The four were accused of killing Melgar “while perpetrating a burglary,” according to the documents. They traveled to Marine quarters in June 2017 where they broke into Melgar’s room, awoke him from his sleep to restrain with him duct tape before holding him in a chokehold and strangling him.

A Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation probed the death for more than a year, concluding just last week.

An Article 32 hearing will be held Dec. 10 in Norfolk, Virginia, before deciding to move the case to court-martial, CNN reported.

Melgar was found dead in shared Embassy housing on June 4, 2017. An autopsy revealed that he died by strangulation, a cause of death that was ruled a homicide.

The two SEALs charged with his murder were members of the elite SEAL Team Six.

The SEALs initially reported that they found Melgar “unresponsive” in their shared room, but later changed the story to say the three were wrestling.

They alleged to investigators that they fell down during the horseplay, and when they stood back up, they realized Melgar was no longer breathing. Then the two SEALs performed CPR and attempted to open an airway in Melgar’s throat, but could not get him to breathe again.

Investigators later found that the two SEALs were stealing money intended for informants, a crime that Melgar may have learned of. Two sources alleged that the SEALs offered to let Melgar join in on the scheme, but he refused.

An exclusive report from The Daily Beast found that Melgar and the SEALs had “an ongoing disagreement … over the SEALs’ professionalism,” a source said. Operational security issues, soliciting prostitutes, and stealing informant-fund money were among some of the issues they clashed over.

Melgar was in Bamako, Mali, where he and other U.S. forces were stationed to work with local military forces on a mission against a local al Qaeda affiliate.

Melgar, a Texas native, had served in Army for five years prior to his death. He had deployed to Afghanistan twice, and was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, N.C., since 2013.

“We will not allow allegations or substantiated incidents of misconduct erode decades of honorable accomplishments by the members of US Special Operations Command,” said Cpt. Jason Salata, spokesperson for the U.S. Special Operations Command.

“We hold ourselves and each other accountable on a daily basis because we know that lives are on the line,” Salata added.