The Army plans to reinvestigate a 2007 murder-suicide it originally concluded was 'friendly fire'

'The Long Road Home'

The Army has reopened an investigation into the 2007 death of Spc. Kamisha Block, which was originally blamed on friendly fire but has since come under heavy scrutiny.

Block's family was originally told the 20-year-old soldier, a member of the 401st Military Police Company, was killed while deployed to Iraq after one gunshot to the chest. But when her body arrived in Texas, there were "five gunshot wounds, including one to the head," according to Stars and Stripes, which first reported the Army was reopening the case.

The family learned that she had been shot by her boyfriend, Staff Sgt. Paul Brandon Norris, Stars and Stripes reports, who killed himself immediately after killing Block. The relationship between the two was not allowed, given Norris' higher rank and that he was still legally married, though going through a divorce at the time.

A friend of Block's, former sergeant with the 57th Military Police Company James Rattigan, told Stars and Stripes that Norris "never beat her per se," but that he was physical. Another sergeant in Block's platoon, David Womack, described Norris as "very aggressive, very quick to scream and yell and get how about stuff that was not that big of a deal."

Rattigan said he told Block's platoon sergeant about the "volatile situation" between Block and Norris, though he reportedly didn't know anything about it.

Three days later, Norris went into Block's room and "ordered her roommate to leave." He then shot Block, and turned to point the gun at her roommate who had opened the door upon hearing gunshots, and shot himself. Womack told Stars and Stripes that in the days following the shooting, it was "eerie how little it was discussed."

Documents obtained by the Block family through a Freedom of Information Act request show that leadership in the platoon knew about a "perceived" relationship between Block and Norris.

A childhood friend of Block's who also joined the Army, Amanda Simmons, said she grew more suspicious about her friend's murder after she spoke a medic who had tried to help Block. The medic "described cutting Block's bulletproof vest from her body," but Simmons knew that had Block been wearing a bulletproof vest, some of her wounds may have been avoided.

"I said, 'Don't lie to me,'" Simmons told Stars and Stripes. "I said, 'I went to her funeral and spoke to her family. Don't disrespect me and don't disrespect her.' It was very awkward."

Chris Grey, spokesman for Army Criminal Investigation Command, told Task & Purpose that the investigation into Block's death was reopened in August 2018. He declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

Block's sister, Shonta Block, started digging into her sister's case two years ago. She said she wants Army leadership "court-martialed" for failing to stop her sister's murder.

"I want them to have to pay for the decisions they made that hurt other people," she told Stars and Stripes. "And not just my sister, but other women and other soldiers."

SEE ALSO: Pentagon identifies soldier killed in non-combat incident in Iraq

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Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.

Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.

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