Sgt. La David Johnson may have been captured and executed, according to the accounts of two Nigerien villagers.
Adamou Boubacar, a 23-year-old farmer from a village in Niger, said that Johnson’s body had been found by some children who were tending cattle two days after the ambush.
Boubacar said that when he found Johnson’s body, Johnson’s hands were tied behind his back, and the back of his head had been smashed in, possibly by a bullet or a hammer.
The village chief, Mounkaila Alassane, confirmed the account, saying, “The back of his head was a mess, as if they had hit him with something hard, like a hammer.”
“They took his shoes. He was wearing only socks,” Alassane added.
The villagers claimed to have also seen the bodies of the three other Americans killed in the ambush: Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Dustin Wright. They claimed that one body was slumped in the pickup truck and two others were on the ground, with one soldier holding a walkie-talkie. The two men claimed that the three soldiers were wearing only tee shirts and boxer shorts.
This account raises the possibility that Johnson was captured and executed by the militants, who are suspected to be affiliated with the Islamic State.
However, a U.S. military official warned against jumping to conclusions, even while acknowledging that Johnson’s body had been battered.
“When the Americans received Johnson, his hands were not tied,” the official said, speaking under the condition of anonymity.