Local News

Passaro's Community Reacts To His Arrest

Posted July 21, 2004

— David Passaro, the CIA contractor

charged with assaulting an Afghan detainee who later died,

is a former Green Beret medic and Army Ranger who has worked for the last two years in a civilian job for the Army.

Neighbors in his rural community north of Fort Bragg say he also is a bit of a mystery -- alternately congenial and hot-tempered.

Passaro was arrested Thursday at Fort Bragg, where he worked as a civilian medical specialist in the Deputy Chief of Staff Surgeon's office at Special Operations Command, according to a statement issued by the command.

The statement said Passaro has been employed by the military since early 2002, but that he was on leave without pay at the time of his alleged actions in Afghanistan.

Officials in Washington said Passaro was a former Army Ranger; a statement from the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg also described him as a former Special Forces medic.

Further details of his military service were not immediately available.

In the rural area where Passaro's home sits behind a locked gate, goats roamed in the yard Thursday afternoon -- and TV trucks parked on the road.

Some neighbors were shocked at the charges.

"Any time we ever spoke, he seemed to be a really, really nice guy," said Diana Chrostowski, 48. "I would have never thought that of him. To me, war is a dirty job. If he did do this, we just don't know what caused him to do this."

Other neighbors, though, recalled heated run-ins.

Theresa Smith, lives across the dirt road from Passaro, said they had a falling out after her children and a neighbor's child rode a golf cart up and down the road and allegedly damaged Passaro's property.

"He kept to himself; I kept to myself," Smith said. "If I needed help, I wouldn't have gone over there, just because of his temperament."

Passaro's next-door neighbor, Rebecca Rodriguez, said she had problems because her dogs kept digging under a fence and getting into Passaro's yard, frightening his horse.

After one incident with the dogs, Rodriguez said, someone fired a bullet through the window of her car. She suspected Passaro and complained to the sheriff's department.

He responded by complaining her dogs had spooked his horse and caused the animal to injure itself.

Rodriguez said she settled the case in small claims court by paying a $400 veterinarian bill for the horse. But she said she was "so intimidated about him," she wouldn't go in her backyard if he was out in his.

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office records department was closed late Thursday, as was civil court.

In interviews with North Carolina TV stations,

ex-wife Kerry Passaro said her former spouse "had his violent moments."

"He was in the Hartford (Conn.) Police Department, and he got fired for beating a neighbor up off-duty," Kerry Passaro said. "He was violent toward me throughout the marriage."

A spokeswoman for the Hartford Police Department, Nancy Mulroy, said Passaro graduated in 1990 from the city's police academy. Mulroy said Passaro was relieved of duty after he was arrested by state police before completing his probationary period.

She could provide no other details of the arrest.

North Carolina records show David and Kerry Passaro were divorced in February 2001 and that Passaro remarried in March 2002.

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