Liberia: Soldier, Who Shot Colleague and Killed Himself, Charged with ‘Attempted Murder’

Sam Collins, the Assistant Minister for Press and Public Affairs, said while the shooting incident that led to Tucker’s death was unfortunate; the deceased had to be charged with an attempt to commit murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  

“The Military Police report recommends Sergeant Tucker be charged for  Article 80 (Attempt to Commit Murder), Article 128 (Aggravated Assault). Article 134 (Firearm, discharging willfully, under circumstances, such as to endanger human life) and Article 92 (failure to obey orders or regulation) under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Collins spokesman of the Ministry of Defense

An inquiry by the Ministry of National Defense has found a soldier of the Armed Forces of Liberia Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, who died of a “self-inflicted injury,” of an “attempt to commit murder.”

Sergeant Prince Tucker died at his assigned post station, the Star Base, on the night of June 6, in an incident that led to a colleague sustaining injuries as a result of a gunshot wound to his lower right abdomen and right elbow.

According to Sam Collins, the Assistant Minister for Press and Public Affairs, while the shooting incident that led to Tucker’s death was unfortunate; the deceased had to be charged with an attempt to commit murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“It sounds funny out there to hear that a dead person has been charged but the Armed Forces of Liberia has decided to do this in line with the law in the purview of the military and in consonance with the 1986 Constitution. It is a crime to take away life, it does not matter if you commit suicide,” Collins told journalists.

“The Military Police report recommended Sergeant Tucker be charged according to Article 80 (Attempt to Commit Murder); Article 128 (Aggravated Assault); Article 134 (Firearm, discharging willfully, under circumstances, has to endanger human life); and Article 92 (Failure to obey order or regulation) under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Collins added that the Military Police investigation also found that Tucker shot himself to death — which carries a lot of charges including aggravated assault and willful firearm discharge under circumstances to endanger life.

He alleged that Tucker failed to obey orders or regulations and, as such, his death does not exempt him under the UCMJ from being charged. Collins added that the inquiry finds that Sergeant Tucker walked into the security booth, picked up a weapon without permission, and when challenged by the personnel on duty at the Adjepako Gate, he shot the first round of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition -- raising concern among soldiers and the civilian dependents at the base.

“The investigation reveals that Sergeant Tucker aimed the AK 47 rifle at his colleague Sergeant Edwin Sanders (injured) when he was being confronted.  However, Sergeant Sanders, considering the situation, decided to persuade and discourage Sergeant Tucker from taking such actions. But seeing the determination of Sergeant Tucker to shoot him he decided to take off, knowing he was vulnerable without a weapon.

“Unfortunately, Sergeant Tucker was only about 5 meters away from Sergeant Sanders and shot him with the AK 47 he illegally obtained from the security booth with a live 7.62 X 39mm round,” Collins said. “In no time Sergeant Tucker, realizing his action, turned and placed the muzzle of the AK 47 into his mouth and pulled the trigger, shooting himself through his mouth with live 7.62 X 39 mm ammunition, which left him dead.”

Meanwhile, Collins said the Army and the Ministry have informed the family of the deceased and they have been briefed on the outcome of the investigation, and “pledged to work with the Armed Forces of Liberia in this period of an unfortunate incident.”

Additionally, he said, the motive behind the shooting is yet to be established but security and personnel safety actions are being instituted.

“The Ministry of National Defense and Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Liberia acknowledge that protecting military installations, and the people who work and live there from such incidents is a major undertaking,” Collins said.  

“And finally, identifying security solutions and gaps on our installations where we served has always been a priority and all recommendations coming from the investigation will be taken seriously. The families of the victims have been contacted and all necessary assistance or support for them has been considered including funeral arrangements for the deceased.”

“Sergeant Sanders was taken into surgery, and a 7.62 x 39 mm projectile was extracted from his lower left abdomen. Sanders is responding to medical treatment,” Collins noted.