by Bradley J. Fikes, North County Times January 22nd, 2003
A NorthCounty software executive was shot and killed in Kuwait on Tuesday and a colleague injured by the same gunman in an ambush near an American military base.
Michael Pouliot of Poway, executive vice president and co-founder of San Diego-based Tapestry Solutions, died in the attack north of KuwaitCity. David Caraway, a software engineer, was critically wounded, the company said.
Tapestry Solutions specializes in military modeling and simulation training tools. The two men were in Kuwait to install software that would allow the military to coordinate its operations, according to a company statement.
The attack took place at Tuesday at a stoplight at Highway 85 and Abu Dhabi Road north of KuwaitCity. The road leads to CampDoha, a military installation serving as a military base for about 17,000 troops in this oil-rich Persian Gulf nation, where about 8,000 American civilians also live.
Pouliot, 46, had a wife and two daughters, ages 12 and 14.
"Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the families affected by this tragedy," said Mark Young, Tapestry's vice president. "We are stunned by this senseless act of violence, which has taken a great man and friend from our family."
A hospital official in Kuwait said Caraway, a San Diego resident, was in stable condition after surgeons removed bullets from his body, including two from his chest.
The shooting was the first assault on U.S. civilians in Kuwait, an oil-rich emirate where thousands of U.S. troops are assembling for a possible war against Iraq.
The ambush, which the American Embassy in Kuwait called a terrorist attack, underscores the prominent ties of local technology companies with the military, and the support role civilians play in military preparations.
San DiegoCounty has been known for decades as a West Coast military hub. The county is home to thousands of military personnel and the Space and NavalWarfareSystemsCenter.
The county also contains major defense contractors such as General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in Rancho Bernardo, maker of the Predator unmanned spy plane. The Global Hawk, another unmanned spy plane, was designed in San Diego.
Pouliot and Caraway were traveling in a four-wheel-drive Toyota when they came under fire near Doha, Qatar. No group claimed responsibility.
U.S. and Kuwaiti officials said they believed a single gunman fired a Kalashnikov assault rifle at the vehicle. The attacker then fled.
Pouliot helped found Tapestry Solutions in 1993. The company has 44 employees worldwide, including 28 in San Diego.
On Tuesday, the company sent its San Diego workers home.
"Clearly everybody is saddened by this horrible tragedy. It's a small company that is family-based and oriented," said Chris Wahl, a Tapestry spokesman. "This is a devastating loss, but they will continue to move forward."
"Tapestry Solutions will continue its overseas operations and persevere through this horrible tragedy. The safety of our employees throughout the world will continue to be paramount, and we will not be intimidated by this act of violence," Young said.
"The president's heart goes out to the families affected by this attack," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "It's a reminder of the dangers and risks servicemen and women face every day in service to our country."
Kuwait, critical to any U.S. war against neighboring Iraq, generally welcomes Americans out of lingering gratitude for the U.S.-led coalition that expelled Iraqi invaders in the 1991 Gulf War. The pro-American sentiment is not universal, though, and other attacks in recent months killed one U.S. soldier and wounded three.
Kuwait's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, sent a condolence message to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He expressed "sincere regrets" and Kuwait's "strong condemnation of such criminal acts that target the historic relations and strong ties between the two friendly nations," the official Kuwait News Agency reported.
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