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Four Hired Guns in an Armored Truck, Bullets Flying, and a Pickup and a Taxi Brought to a Halt. Who Did the Shooting and Why?

(Courtesy Isireli Naucukidi - Courtesy Isireli Naucukidi)

Washbourne sat in the front passenger seat of the "follow" vehicle -- the third Suburban in a three-truck convoy, which included a lead vehicle, filled with guards, and what they called the "limo," a Suburban used to ferry the client. Sheppard drove. Schmidt and Naucukidi sat behind them facing backward to protect against a rear attack.

The four men agree on what happened next. The convoy arrived at Checkpoint 1, just outside the airport, and set up a blocking position to allow the lead vehicle and the "limo" to proceed through the checkpoint. The contractors noticed a small white pickup truck moving up slowly behind them from a distance of about 200 yards.

At this point, the stories diverge.

Naucukidi said Sheppard moved the Suburban to give Schmidt a better view. Naucukidi said that he and Schmidt tried to warn the white truck to stop but that it was still moving forward when Schmidt fired three times with his M-4. He said the truck stopped immediately but was still too far away for the men to see where the bullets hit.

Naucukidi also said the truck was too far away and was moving too slowly to pose a threat.

Schmidt and Sheppard waited two days before coming forward, then gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. Both said that it was Washbourne who shot at the white truck and that he fired intentionally into the windshield. "His intention was to kill," said Schmidt, who claimed he saw a "splash" of glass from the bullets striking the windshield.

Schmidt and Sheppard said Washbourne warned them not to mention the incident, quoting him as saying, "That didn't happen, understand?"

Washbourne said he only recalled firing two warning shots at a much larger white truck in an incident during a different run that morning. Naucukidi said he believes Washbourne is confusing that shooting with yet another incident that had occurred at the same location a few days earlier.

"There was no comments about 'That didn't happen, you understand,' or anything," Washbourne said.

"I am not a clever or witty man; I don't say things like that," he said. "And I'm not a morbid or sadistic" person.

July 8: Route Irish

The convoy continued through the checkpoint to pick up the KBR executive at the airport. It then left the airport and began the return trip.

Sheppard wrote that he observed "an Ambulance and a lot of activity" where the shooting had taken place. He and Schmidt said Washbourne threatened them again not to say anything.

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