Two Army sergeants assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, were arrested last week, and one was charged with murder, following a bar fight in El Paso’s Cincinnati district that led to a fatal shooting, according to local police.
The shooting was close to a different bar where another Fort Bliss soldier was stabbed multiple times in late January.
Both incidents are expected be raised during the next meeting of Fort Bliss’ disciplinary control board, which determines off-limits locations for soldiers, according to 1st Armored Division spokeswoman Lt. Col. Allie M. Payne.
“In future meetings we will incorporate our local law enforcement ... previously we worked in coordination with [them], now we’re asking for attendance,” Payne said Tuesday. “I have no doubt that this area of town will be reviewed during the next meeting.”
In January alone, at least eight 911 calls involving violent crimes came from the Cincinnati district, according to local TV station KTSM. El Paso police told KTSM they’ve noticed the increase in violence and have allocated more officers to patrol the area, especially on “peak nights” — Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Some of the violent crimes have involved soldiers as both the alleged perpetrators and the victims.
Sgt. Marcus Lamar Hill, 23, was arrested last week for the murder of recently separated soldier Darion Marquez Williams, 26, police said. Williams was shot to death Feb. 8 at about 2 a.m. near Chino Chido bar in the popular entertainment district.
Earlier in the night, bouncers removed some of bar patrons after a fight broke out, according to a police investigation. When closing time came, another fight broke out in the parking lot outside and Williams was fatally shot in the altercation.
Williams was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to police. Days later, El Paso police detectives arrested Hill at a traffic stop near his home.
Another soldier assigned to Fort Bliss, 29-year-old Sgt. Brandon King, was riding as a passenger in the vehicle driven by Hill and charged with the unlawful carrying of a handgun.
Both men were booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility. Hill is being held on a $750,000 bond. King was released from jail without any deposit or collateral.
Williams had just recently completed his Army service at Fort Bliss on Jan. 28, according to Lt. Col. Payne, the 1st Armored Division spokeswoman.
Payne declined to say which brigades Hill and King belonged to at Fort Bliss but confirmed they were members of 1st Armored Division.
The shooting death came just a few weeks after another Fort Bliss soldier, Sgt. Devin Vaughn Graham, 24, was stabbed multiple times on Jan. 24, but survived.
The stabbing occurred during a fight outside the Rockin’ Cigar Bar & Grill in the Cincinnati district. Yaanan Uriel Vic Evans, a 21-year-old civilian, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection to the stabbing.
Crime near Army posts isn’t uncommon. Fort Hood, another major installation in Texas, has been under scrutiny in recent months for a series of violent crimes that occurred there over the course of 2020.
Army senior leaders brought together an independent committee to compile a report on Fort Hood’s issues that was made public in December.
That report is also being used by Fort Bliss commander Maj. Gen. Sean Bernabe, especially with regard to sexual assault and harassment, according to Payne.
“We recently had our first decision board of Operation Ironclad, [which] was directed by Maj. Gen. Bernabe to dive deep into issues from the [Fort Hood Independent Review Committee] and their applicability here at Fort Bliss,” said Payne, adding that more details on the initiative will be released in the coming weeks.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.