(May 29, 2004) -- The Pentagon's Central Command HQ has issued a statement (which we post verbatim below) into the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, an NFL star who gave up a lucrative football career to become a U.S. Army Ranger. On April 22, Cpl. Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan.
"While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Corporal Tillman died as a probable result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces," the statement says.
[Begin CentCom text]
CPL TILLMAN INVESTIGATION COMPLETED
MACDILL AFB, FL - A military investigation into the circumstances of the 22 April death of Corporal Patrick Tillman is complete.
While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Corporal Tillman died as a probable result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces.
Corporal Tillman's unit was ambushed with small arms and mortar fire at about 7:30 PM local time while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. The enemy ambush was immediately responded to by a coalition patrol including Cpl Tillman with direct fire, and an intense firefight lasting approximately 20 minutes ensued.
The ambush was conducted by 10-12 enemy personnel from multiple locations over approximately 1 kilometer in very severe and constricted terrain with impaired light conditions. Following initial contact, Cpl Tillman disembarked from his vehicle and, in support of his unit, moved into position to suppress enemy fire.
The results of this investigation in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Cpl Tillman. Cpl Tillman was shot and killed while responding to enemy fire without regard for his own safety. He focused his efforts on the elimination of enemy forces and the protection of his team members. There is an inherent degree of confusion in any firefight, particularly when a unit is ambushed, and especially under difficult light and terrain conditions which produces an environment that increases the likelihood of fratricide.
U.S. Central Command regrets the loss of life resulting from this tragic incident.