Phil Bronstein spent more than a year researching a piece published Monday in Esquire on the life of the Navy SEAL who allegedly killed Osama bin Laden. He formed a friendship with the man, whom he refers to only as “the Shooter” throughout the piece for safety reasons, learning new details about the famous raid and — more shockingly — the Shooter’s life post-retirement.
The Shooter isn’t exactly able to write on his résumé that he’s the man who killed Osama Bin Laden– details about the mission are strictly classified and he adheres to a “quiet professional” code. The Shooter says he has no interest in making himself a public figure like the author of No Easy Day, who was also on the raid and was one of the men to shoot Bin Laden after the terrorist had been killed by the Shooter. So where is he now?
"[Bin Laden] looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting. He had a cap on and didn’t appear to be hit…
For me, it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him. Even in our kill houses where we train, there are targets with his face on them. This was repetition and muscle memory. That’s him, boom, done.
In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy shit.
His forehead was gruesome. It was split open in the shape of a V. I could see his brains spilling out over his face. The American public doesn’t want to know what that looks like.”