Marine Charged In Accidental Shooting

Wednesday, May 2nd 2007, 10:35 pm

By: News On 6

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A Marine who accidentally shot and killed a comrade during an exercise at Camp Pendleton has been charged with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty for failing to remove live ammunition from his rifle and replace it with blanks.

The charges against Sgt. Caleb P. Hohman followed an investigation into the Oct. 30 accident, when Hohman twice shot Sgt. Seth M. Algrim during what was supposed to be a blank-firing training session.

The Marine Corps could also take administrative action against several other Marines for supervisory and safety failures, according to a report released Tuesday that disclosed the charges.

``The death was the result of individual and small-unit negligence and a lack of supervision,'' wrote Maj. Gen. John Paxton Jr. ``The tragedy could have been prevented.''

Paxton recommended a review of live-fire safety and training procedures at Pendleton.

The report recounts a catastrophic chain of events and blunders that led to Algrim's death, beginning 10 days before the shooting when Hohman, 23, became ill during a training exercise with live ammunition.

Hohman left his rifle in his platoon's tent and was treated in the emergency room at Camp Pendleton's hospital. His rifle was moved from the tent to the site of the next training exercise, an urban-combat simulation with blank bullets, but no one checked to see if the gun was still loaded.

The night of the Oct. 30 exercise, Algrim was role-playing the part of an insurgent. The report shows that Hohman shot Algrim once in the arm and once in the head, killing him instantly.

Marine spokesman Capt. Mike Alvarez could not confirm where Hohman is currently stationed, or if he has an attorney.

Algrim, 22, of Garden City, Kan., was a highly respected sniper who served with the Marine's elite 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in Afghanistan, according to the report.

Investigators found a ``declining respect'' at Pendleton for ammunition that is not accounted for.

That mind-set likely formed in the western Anbar province of Iraq where members of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion spent multiple combat tours and ``where the emphasis on the accountability of ammunition, due to a variety of factors, has dulled,'' the report stated.

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