State News

Army: Accident may have caused Fort Bragg death

Posted January 31, 2011 12:31 p.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2011 7:13 p.m. EST

— Army investigators said Monday that they believe a soldier's death at Fort Bragg last week was accidental.

The body of Staff Sgt. Jason T. Pool was found Friday in a wooded area near the intersection of Ardennes and Reilly Roads, where the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum is located.

“It is early in the investigation and we are looking closely at every possibility, but at this point in the investigation, we are seeing very strong indicators that this soldier’s death was possibly accidental and related to a fall,” Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, said in a statement.

An autopsy was conducted by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, and investigators are awaiting toxicology reports before determining the cause of death, Grey said.

Pool, 51, of Fall River, Mass., was assigned to Company D, Warrior Transition Battalion, after being medically evacuated from Afghanistan, where he was deployed with the Massachusetts Army National Guard's 101st Field Artillery Regiment.

A weekend shooting of a soldier on post was unrelated to Pool's death, officials said.

Col. Chad McRee, commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade, said the shooting early Sunday stemmed from a dispute at a nightclub off post.

Three soldiers followed a fourth on post and opened fire on another soldier's vehicle at Yadkin Road and Stabo Loop, McRee said.

A 23-year-old soldier, whose name hasn't been released, was wounded in the left arm. Investigators were interviewing three soldiers Monday afternoon, but no charges had been filed.

Guards at security gates on Fort Bragg randomly search vehicles of soldiers on post, but McRee said the gunmen's vehicle wasn't searched Sunday morning.

"These soldiers presented the proper identification. These soldiers obeyed the rules as they were coming in the gate, as we could tell. We didn't have cause to have to search that vehicle," he said.

Soldiers are allowed to carry personal firearms as long as they are registered on post, he said, adding that investigators haven't yet determined if the gun used in the shooting was registered at Fort Bragg.

"If they live in the barracks, they cannot reside with (personal firearms) in the barracks. They would have to be kept in an arms room or an off-post location that we would be aware of," he said.

Two soldiers have been shot on post in January. Officials are investigating the Jan. 1 death of Capt. Jeremiah Sipes, who was jogging on the All American Trail, as a hunting accident.