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Lawsuits filed in death of Canyon Country soldier in Afghanistan

Suits say firm that hired security guard did not follow its own procedures

Posted: June 17, 2013 5:34 p.m.
Updated: June 17, 2013 5:34 p.m.

Dante Acosta — whose son Army Spc. Rudy A. Acosta was killed by a rogue gunman in Afghanistan two years ago — said Monday he is suing the security firm who hired the gunman.

Lawyers representing Acosta filed companion lawsuits in March against the Canadian-based Tundra Security firm, which has offices in both Florida and New York where the firm was contracted and where it was paid, respectively.

“The big issue here is holding this defense contractor accountable for their actions,” Acosta told The Signal Monday.

“They did not follow their own protocol or procedures.”

On March 19, 2001, an Afghan national named Shia Ahmed — recruited by Tundra Security 10 days earlier — opened fire on American troops as they began cleaning their weapons inside the Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Afghanistan.

Acosta and Cpl. Donald R. Mickler Jr., 29, of Ohio were killed and four others wounded before the gunman was shot dead.

Tundra had hired the gunman as a security employee for American troops months prior to the attack but fired him for having made unsubstantiated threats against U.S. soldiers, according to information disclosed during an Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington a year ago.

Tundra, however, rehired the same man. Two weeks later he shot two, including Acosta, and wounded four.

“They hired him in 2010, fired him, and nine months later re-hired him,” Acosta said.

“They (Tundra officials) did not update his file; there was no follow up,” he said.

“And, the bio-metric (identity) scanner wasn’t in operation the day he was hired. If the passport-checking machine isn’t working, do they let people into the country without a passport?”

In February 2012, Brigadier General Kenneth R. Dahl, deputy commanding general for support, 10th Mountain Division, told an Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington that he ordered an investigation into the attack that spurred the Acosta lawsuit.

“The investigation identified the assailant — a Tundra (Security) employee — as an insurgent who infiltrated the ranks of Tundra in order to execute an internal attack,” he told the committee.

Dahl said the attacks could have been prevented had military commanders taken greater care in sharing pertinent information.

“A key finding of the investigation was that the assailant had, indeed, been fired months prior for making unsubstantiated threats against U.S. soldiers at a (base) in another location,” he said.

“Given that the threats were unsubstantiated, neither Tundra nor the command annotated those threats in an official record which, had they been recorded, may have prevented the assailant from being rehired.”

Dahl called military guidelines on the people hired by private security firms “vague and confusing.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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