Release of SBI report on May 5 fatal shooting of Bragg soldier expected soon
By GREGORY PHILLIPS | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: December 10, 2012
A state report is almost finished on the fatal shooting of a Fort Bragg soldier by a Fayetteville police officer about seven months ago.
Army Staff Sgt. Mark Lewis Salazar was shot in his driveway on the 6500 block of Pacific Avenue early on May 5. Three police officers had responded to a 911 call from a neighbor who said Salazar was standing in his front yard firing a gun.
"The investigative work is complete and agents are in the process of completing the final report to be delivered to the local district attorney," said Jennifer Canada, a spokeswoman for the State Bureau of Investigation.
The SBI routinely investigates shootings involving local law enforcement.
Police said one of the officers shot Salazar when the soldier raised a gun in their direction. He died in a hospital a week later.
Since the shooting, friends and colleagues of the Seventy-First High School graduate have protested that he was a calm and friendly character who wouldn't point a gun at a police officer.
An online petition calling for the House Armed Services Committee to investigate his death has 400 signatures.
"What happened?" said Manuel Costa, who served with Salazar in Afghanistan. "That's what we want to figure out."
Salazar, who grew up in Fayetteville, had been in the Army since 2007. He was a graphic illustrator for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command's 4th Military Information Support Group.
Costa said he can't understand why only one officer fired at Salazar if he was pointing a gun at them.
"If a suspect was aiming a gun at you, I would think that all three would fire at him," Costa said.
The officers were put on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, but all three returned to work before the end of May. Police have not released their internal report, citing the pending state investigation.
Costa, who lives in Idaho, had not seen Salazar since 2011. But they talked on Facebook a week or so before he was killed.
"I had asked him to be in my wedding," Costa said. "Everything seemed to be fine."
Staff writer Gregory Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.