An Army Ranger assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord is charged with shooting a fellow soldier in the neck Saturday in Pierce County.
The News Tribune reports that Spc. Thomas Patrick Popek was arraigned in Pierce County Superior Court Monday on an assault charge.
Popek, 22, faces one count of second-degree assault for the incident, which charging documents say left a JBLM soldier on life support with a bullet lodged in his neck.
The 23-year-old victim from Hudson, New Hampshire, is in critical condition and unable to breath on his own, according to the Associated Press.
The News Tribune reports the wounded soldier is a specialist assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Col. Fred Williams said.
The shooting happened about 3:10 p.m. Saturday, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
According to charging documents:
Popek, the victim and others were in a Parkland apartment Saturday and getting ready to go to a shooting range. Popek told deputies he was cleaning his 45 caliber handgun and was “fooling around with the gun while cleaning it.”
He said he pointed the gun at the victim and pulled the trigger. He said he didn’t know a round was in the chamber and the gun fired.
Prosecutors sought a $50,000 bail for Popek on the assault charge, but Court Commissioner Meagan Foley released him on his own recognizance.
One witness said Popek had returned to JBLM from a deployment five days earlier, according to the report on The News Tribune.
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