CAMP LEJEUNE — A Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of a Marine on guard duty by a colleague at a North Carolina base appears to have been an accident.
Indications point to a "negligent discharge" as the cause of Tuesday's death in a guard shack at the main gate to Camp Lejeune, Department of Defense spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren told reporters.
"It appears right now to have been an accident," Warren said.
But it will take several weeks of examination to confirm that the shooting was accidental, base spokesman Nat Fahy said in a statement.
The Marine who fired the single shot from his M4 rifle about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday remains in custody while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service reviews the incident. He has not been publicly identified.
The victim was shot once in the chest. Emergency personnel attempted to revive the wounded Marine, but the person was later pronounced dead at a base hospital.
The victim's name won't be made public until at least 24 hours after next-of-kin are notified of the death, following standard military procedure.
Authorities quickly ruled out terrorism as the cause of the shooting. The guard shack at the gate is about 15 feet by 15 feet and sits under a canopy.
The shooting came less than a week after a shooting rampage by a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas killed three and wounded 16 others.
Fahy stressed the difference in the two situations.
"We understand that people are at a state of heightened sensitivity, given what happened over at Fort Hood," Fahy said Tuesday night. "It's important that we convey that this is not a Fort Hood-like incident. It was an isolated incident that's no longer active."
The main gate remained open after the shooting, Fahy said.
He said authorities isolated the area immediately after the shooting, and when it was determined the situation was secure, traffic was allowed to pass on and off the base.
"At no time was the base ever on lockdown," Fahy said.