"He said he had been to Alkozai and shot up some people," McLaughlin recalled, referring to one of the villages where civilians were slain. McLaughlin was incredulous, responding: "No, you didn't, Bob." But Bales was insistent, saying he had shot "military-aged men" and encouraging McLaughlin to smell his weapon.
Bales then said he was heading to another village and would be back at 5 a.m. Before stepping out, McLaughlin testified, Bales made a request: "Take care of my kids." McLaughlin said he fell asleep again, dismissing the exchange as bizarre but innocuous.
Shortly after that, reports about shots fired nearby put the base on alert. They were followed by an account by an Afghan guard who had seen an American soldier walk out of the base.
After determining that Bales was missing, McLaughlin and Godwin were dispatched to the main entrance of the base, where they began yelling his name. Soon, they spotted a figure wearing a dark cape jogging toward the entrance, the two testified. When Bales reached them, he put his weapon on the ground.
"Mac, did you rat me out?" Bales asked McLaughlin, the soldier testified. Later that night, as soldiers were preparing to move Bales to a larger base, the sergeant boasted to McLaughlin, telling him how many people he thought he had killed.
"My count is 22," Bales said, according to McLaughlin. MORE