+ A

Soldier killed by stray shot to the head, not by ricochet

Oct 10,2017
The recent death of a Korean Army soldier near a local shooting range has been attributed to a “stray bullet” caused by poor fire safety procedures, the defense ministry said Monday.

The findings come after it conducted a 10-day special investigation into the death of the 22-year-old private first class late last month.

He was hit by a bullet in the head while walking back to his base in Cheorwon, Gangwon after carrying out some construction work. The firing range was located about 400 meters (0.25 miles) away. The Army initially announced he was apparently struck by a ricochet. But suspicions were rampant about the exact cause of death.

Defense Minister Song Young-moo ordered his ministry to conduct a detailed probe into the case.

“It has been confirmed that he was killed by a ‘stray bullet’ that flew straight from the nearby shooting range,” the ministry said.

It characterized the killing as an accident brought on by a combination of poor security measures and live fire safety control at the site.

It ruled out the possibility of someone “directly taking aim” at the soldier, citing poor visibility outside the range from the firing line and the undisclosed schedule of the work detail troop movement.

The ministry said it plans to seek warrants to arrest three Army officers on charges of dereliction of duty that resulted in the death of the soldier. It will also request that the Army discipline 16 others.

Yonhap