By THOMAS WATKINS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 2, 2007; 10:40 PM
SAN DIEGO -- A Marine has been charged with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty in the accidental shooting death of a comrade during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton last fall, according to a report.
Sgt. Caleb P. Hohman is accused of failing to remove live ammunition from his rifle and replace it with blanks for the Oct. 30 exercise. Authorities say Hohman shot Sgt. Seth M. Algrim twice.
The Marine Corps could also take administrative action against several other Marines for supervisory and safety failures, according to the report, released Tuesday.
"The death was the result of individual and small-unit negligence and a lack of supervision," Maj. Gen. John Paxton Jr. wrote in the report. "The tragedy could have been prevented."
Investigators found a "declining respect" at Pendleton for ammunition that is not accounted for. That mind-set likely formed in the Anbar province of Iraq, where members of the battalion did combat tours and where accountability of ammunition "has dulled," the report said.
Paxton recommended a review of live-fire safety and training procedures at Pendleton.
The report recounts events 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 whether the gun was still loaded.
On the night of the Oct. 30 exercise, Algrim was playing the role of an insurgent. Hohman shot Algrim once in the arm and once in the head, killing him instantly, the report said.
Marine spokesman Capt. Mike Alvarez could not confirm where Hohman is stationed or whether 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.
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-- submitted by Lois Vanderbur