– An incident in which a supervisor for a Virginia-based security company said he was “going to kill somebody today” and then shot at Iraqi civilians for amusement, possibly killing one, according to two employees.

The two, former Army Ranger Charles L. Sheppard III and former Marine Corps sniper Shane B. Schmidt, were fired by the company, Triple Canopy, and responded with a wrongful termination lawsuit. Their suit did not identify the shift leader they said deliberately opened fire on civilians in at least two incidents while their team was driving in Baghdad. He was described only as a former serviceman from Oklahoma.

On its Internet site, the company said all three were fired for failing to immediately report incidents involving gunfire. Triple Canopy, after an initial investigation, reported no one had been hurt and handed its information to the U.S. government.

Patricia Smith, a lawyer representing Sheppard and Schmidt, said the U.S. Justice Department declined to investigate. The Justice Department declined comment on the case.

– Disgruntled employees of London-based Aegis Defence Services, holder of one of the biggest U.S. security contracts in Iraq – valued at more than $430 million – posted videos on the Internet in 2005 showing company guards firing automatic weapons at civilians from the back of a moving security vehicle.

In one sequence, a civilian car is fired on, causing the driver to lose control and slam into a taxi. Another clip shows a white car being hit by automatic weapons fire and then coming slowly to a stop.

In the videos, the security vehicle doesn’t stop. It speeds on, leaving the civilians and their shot-up vehicles behind.

After initially denying involvement, Aegis, run by former Scots Guard Lt. Col. Tim Spicer, issued a statement saying the shootings were legal and within rules-of-force protocols established by the now-defunct CPA. Those guidelines allow security guards to fire on vehicles that approach too close or too quickly. U.S. Army auditors, in their own investigation, agreed with Aegis.

In the chaos of Iraq, where car bombings and suicide attacks occur over and over on any given day, such contractor shootings are commonplace, military officials say. The numbers of Iraqis wounded or killed by private guards is not known.

– Sixteen American security guards were arrested and jailed by U.S. Marines in battle-scarred Fallujah in 2005 following a day of shooting incidents in which they allegedly fired on a Marine observation post, a combat patrol and civilians walking and driving in the city, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

The guards, employed by Zapata Engineering of North Carolina, were imprisoned for three days. “They were detained because their actions posed a threat to coalition forces. I would say that constitutes a serious event,” Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Lapan said at the time.


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