Steven Elliott, the man who may have accidentally killed football player turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, spoke with ESPN’s Outside the Lines about the incident in Afghanistan in 2004.
“It is possible, in my mind, that I hit him,” said Steven Elliott, who had been engaged in his first firefight as an Army Ranger when Tillman died on April 22, 2004, in the mountainous terrain of southeast Afghanistan.
Tillman’s platoon was split in two and headed down a mountain after their Humvee broke down. The second group came under fire and Tillman’s group had to move to provide assistance. However, due to communication problems, the man with Tillman was misidentified as the enemy.
But a squad leader, Sgt. Greg Baker, in Elliott’s armored vehicle misidentified an allied Afghan soldier positioned next to Tillman as the enemy and opened fire, killing the Afghan and prompting Elliott and two other Rangers to fire upon what Elliott called shadowy images, later learned to have been Tillman and then-19-year-old Bryan O’Neal.
Investigations by the Army determined that Tillman died from three shots to his head. Elliott, whose weapon was an M240 Bravo machine gun, and platoon mate and Spc. Trevor Alders have been most widely suspected of having fired the fatal caliber of rounds, based on autopsies and Army investigations.
The Army did not release details of the shots that killed Tillman.
Elliott left the Army in 2007 and was treated for post-traumatic syndrome (PTSD). He speaks out now to help soldiers who suffer from PTSD.
Outside the Lines is scheduled at 9AM ET on ESPN on Sunday, April 19. ESPN will also air “Pat Tillman: Ten Years Later, An Enduring Tragedy” at 8PM ET on Tuesday, April 21.
Photo Credit: Gene Lower