Memorial for Sycamore plumber killed in Afghanistan

September 29, 2011 (SYCAMORE, Ill.)

Jay Todd Henigan, 61, was working at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan when he was killed by an Afghan security guard.

The attack occurred about 9 p.m. last Sunday, in a building on the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, considered the most heavily fortified compound in the Afghan capital. The American-paid Afghan security guard was inside the walls where Henigan, the Sycamore plumber, happened to be.

When the gunfire ended, Henigan and the guard were dead, and a second American was wounded.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul is a constant target for Taliban militants. Two weeks ago it was under siege for 19 hours. Between the embassy and NATO headquarters, seven people ended up dead.

Even for a city where high-level visitors wear body armor on the outside, last Sunday night, things seemed to be quiet, until Illinois plumber Henigan was hit by gunshots fired by an Afghan national working embassy security.

On Thursday in Kabul, embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall told the I-Team that the first reports about the incident were wrong. Not only was the Afghan guard armed, he was authorized to be armed on the premises. The motive for the attack is unknown, but the attacker was shot and killed on the scene.

There is still ferocious fighting underway by American forces in parts of Afghanistan. Sunday's deadly attack was preceded by an explosion at the U.S. embassy compound, according to one report by an Afghan news organization. The blast was said to be followed by gunfire -- all of it in an outbuilding that houses the CIA.

Regardless of the mechanics of what happened, Henigan is dead. He was an avid sportsman, according to friends.

Thursday evening, in a quaint chapel near his Sycamore home, friends and relatives are gathering for what they call a remembrance celebration for a man who was just "at the wrong place at the wrong time," according to one military official.

This is not the first time such an incident has occurred. Last year, the I-Team revealed that Indiana Marine Josh Birchfield was shot and killed by an Afghan security guard paid by the Pentagon, a guard who was high on opium at the time.

Birchfield's death in 2010 resulted in a review of how Afghan security guards were to be screened and hired, but Thursday night, without some more details from either the state department or military officials, it is impossible to know whether Henigan's death could have been prevented.

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