Master Sergeant, United States Army
June 20, 2010:
Master Sergeant Pedro Mercado, 47, died after he was hit multiple times in the shooting that took place at the U.S. Army Reserve Center on Fort Gillem, just south of Atlanta.
"My husband got shot and killed," said his widow from her Stockbridge, Georgia, home. "It's been tough."
The suspect, who has not yet been identified, remains in custody after he turned himself in at the nearby Lake City Police Department.
Mercado, a father of three, grew up in Mott Haven before he graduated high school and began his long career in the military, said the widow, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is continuing.
"That's what he loved," she said. "Family and military."
Mercado and the suspect were assigned to the Army Medical Department Professional Management Command. The unit helps with the readiness of medical units.
His two sons followed in his footsteps and
are active military, she said. "They lost their father," his widow said.
.Records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show that the 29-year-old Valmont was a direct report of the man he is accused of shooting to death.
The charge of premeditated murder was recommended Tuesday by the U.S. Army's criminal investigations command under Article 118 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
Valmont, a native of the Virgin Islands, is being held in pretrial detention at an undisclosed military institution.
Mercado, 47, died from multiple gunshot wounds Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Forest Park. The married father of three lived in Stockbridge.
Valmont was Mercado's direct report at the personnel management branch of the U.S. Army Medical Professional Management Command.
Mercado was second in command of the group of soldiers and civilians who helped to manage the careers of all Army medical professionals nationwide.
Mercado is survived by a wife -- also a soldier -- and three children.
He had been in the Army for 29 years, serving with the 82nd Airborne in Kuwait, Germany and Kosovo, earning three Meritorious Service Medals, six Army Commendation Medals and seven Army Parachutist badges.
"The U.S. Army extends it's deepest condolences to Master Sergeant Mercado's family," Hutchinson said Tuesday.
Valmont faces the death sentence or life in prison if found guilty, according to article 118 of the UCMJ:
“Any person subject to this chapter who, without justification or excuse, unlawfully kills a human being, when he— (1) has a premeditated design to kill; (2) intends to kill or inflict great bodily harm; (3) is engaged in an act that is inherently dangerous to another and evinces a wanton disregard of human life; or (4) ... is guilty of murder, and shall suffer such punishment as a court-martial may direct, except that if found guilty under clause (1) or (4), he shall suffer death or imprisonment for life as a court-martial may direct."
Next, Valmont's case will go through an Article
32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, meant to
asses the truth of the charges to ensure there is a basis for prosecution,
prior to convening a general court martial, or military trial, Army officials
The soldier, Staff Sergeant Rashad J. Valmont, has been charged with premeditated murder under the section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that deals with murder, according to a written statement from Army spokesperson, Major Lenora Hutchinson.
Mercado, 47, a resident of Stockbridge, Georgia, was shot multiple times on June 17, 2010, at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, at Fort Gillem. Mercado was the Noncommissioned Officer-in-charge of the Personnel Section at the Army Medical Depot Professional Management Command, where Valmont worked as a human resource specialist.
“A charge of premeditated murder was preferred against Staff Sergeant Rashad J. Valmont, under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Hutchinson said in her written statement.
Although Hutchinson stressed Valmont is presumed innocent unless he is proven guilty, his life could be on the line when his case goes to trial.
Under Article 118 of the UCMJ, a person “shall suffer death, or imprisonment for life as a court-martial may direct,” if he or she is found guilty of premeditated murder, or kills another person while “engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration or burglary, sodomy, rape, robbery, or aggravated arson,” according to a copy of the UCMJ found on the Army’s web site, www.army.mil/.
Hutchinson said the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command is still investigating the shooting. The Army has not released any information about a possible motive for the shooting. Valmont allegedly turned himself in to Lake City police after the shooting occurred.
Mercado’s funeral will be held today, at noon, at the Redemption Fellowship Church, which is located at 418 Ga. Hwy. 279, in Fayetteville, according to both an obituary that ran in a local newspaper, and a woman who answered thse church’s phone. There will be a visitation at the church from 10 a.m., to noon.
Posted: 9 August 2010 Updated: 20 August 2010
Photos By Eileen Horan, August 2010