A former platoon leader for the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians says the allegations are "100 percent out of character" for the man, whom he described as a "very solid" noncommissioned officer who has saved other soldiers' lives.

Army Capt. Chris Alexander, who led Robert Bales on a 15-month deployment in Iraq, says Bales worked as a stock trader before the Sept. 11 attacks motivated him to serve his country.

Alexander says while deployed, Bales always made sure his team was briefed on their mission and their equipment was checked.

Alexander calls Bales one of the best guys he ever worked with, adding "He is not some psychopath. He's an outstanding soldier who has given a lot for this country."

Staff Sgt. Bales is being held at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He has not been charged.

Details emerge about suspect in Afghan massacre

Neighbors and court records are providing a conflicting picture of the U.S. soldier accused of massacring 16 civilians in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is being held in his own cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He has not been charged.

Neighbors in his home state of Washington recall Bales as a kind-hearted father known to join his two young children for playtime in their yard. They say he "never expressed a lot of emotion" about his multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Classmates and neighbors from suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, remember him as a "happy-go-lucky" high school football player who took care of a special needs child and watched out for troublemakers in the neighborhood.

Bales told an interviewer for a military newspaper in 2009 that he and his comrades in Iraq were proving there was a "real difference between being an American" and "being a bad guy."

But his attorney says Bales "wasn't thrilled" about being sent to Afghanistan after three tours of duty in Iraq, during which he was twice injured.

Court records describe a couple of brushes with trouble, including a 2008 hit-and-run accident and a 2002 arrest for assault on a girlfriend. That case was dismissed after Bales underwent anger management counseling.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)