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Reconstructing May 24, 1993

FRIENDS SAY GAGA was always joking around on the front line--the kind of sociable, high spirits I remember.

Why would he kill himself?

Was he disturbed over the kind of person he'd become? Was he morose after Dejan's death? It is possible he was distraught about Misha's cancer and depressed that his ride the next day to see Misha in Belgrade fell through.

I've become almost certain that when Gaga stopped at Fikreta's flat that evening he had every intention of leaving alive. Witnesses who saw Gaga earlier that evening say he was sober. Fikreta says he knocked on her door at 10:30, somewhat drunk. She said he seemed scuffed and rattled. He told her he'd been in a fight with a fellow Serb fighter, one known to traffic in stolen goods.

Fikreta was in the kitchen making coffee. When she heard the shot, why would she run directly to a neighbor without looking at Gaga first?

Officially, the single bullet that killed Gaga entered his right temple and exited through the top of his head, shattering the back of his skull. But a police detective told a friend that the bullet entered his forehead execution-style.

And was Gaga's pistol missing when police arrived? Both a Serb neighbor and the Serb military commander say it was found next to Gaga's slumped body. Fikreta said that a second neighbor had taken the pistol, drawing further suspicion on her from the police.

The more I spoke with the people involved, the less I believed their suicide theory. They seemed inordinately concerned that their separate stories matched up.

It is possible that the people in Gaga's building killed him to end his campaign of terror. Perhaps his looting partner killed him in a money dispute and threatened building residents.

Only one thing is clear to me: Gaga's soul was dead long before.

Next: Conclusion

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