A female U.S. Army soldier said she was beaten so severely by a soldier after making out with another man in their unit that she “thought I was about to die.”
Jacob Andrew Avila, a combat engineer, and his friend Lucas Curtis stumbled onto the 18-year-old woman and her comrade in a bedroom at Avila’s home in Copperas Cove. Avila and the victim are both based out of nearby Fort Hood, Texas. According to a police affidavit, Avila and Curtis asked her to leave the room, beat her companion, and then some time later grabbed her while she was exiting a bathroom. The twentysomethings allegedly grabbed her neck, shoved her into a wall, slapped her, and started strangling her.
The woman told investigators she suffered a concussion, ruptured eardrum, and abrasions to her face and neck. At one point, she said she lost consciousness.
Curtis “had his hand around her neck” and “was squeezing tight enough that she was unable to breath," police recorded her saying. Affidavits state that he punched her multiple times, until she tripped and injured her back. Once she was on the floor, Curtis "straddled her," keeping her from getting up.
The assault only stopped when another soldier saw it and intervened, according to documents. That man took her to a Fort Hood military police officer’s home, who drove her to the emergency room.
Police say they're still perplexed by what led to the assault.
"We're still trying to figure out why and what the motive is for this one," Copperas Cove police Sgt. Martin Ruiz said. "They're not ex-boyfriends or anything like that." (The victim's make-out partner was minorly injured but does not want to press charges, Ruiz said.)
According to the affidavits, Avila admitted slapping her and said Curtis slapped, punched, and choked her. Avila was jailed at the Copperas Cove police department on charges of assault causing bodily injury and unlawful restraint, a court clerk said. (He was released on a $6,000 bond Wednesday afternoon.) Ruiz said the same charges have been filed against Curtis but he has not yet been arrested.
Avila is a specialist and combat engineer assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Army officials said.
Fort Hood spokesman Tom Rheinlander said military law enforcement officials are investigating the incident in cooperation with Copperas Cove police.
"III Corps and Fort Hood takes all reports of assault seriously," Rheinlander said. "The chain of command for the soldiers involved are aware of the incident and will ensure all appropriate measures are taken."
An Army spokesman said the victim is a combat engineer and private assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at the base.