JBLM soldier playing with handgun shoots girlfriend, police say

A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier playing with a pistol shot and wounded his girlfriend Tuesday in Lakewood, according to Pierce County prosecutors.

The 21-year-old was charged Thursday with one count of third-degree assault and released on his own recognizance with orders to live on base.

The soldier is a specialist within the 7th Infantry Division, division spokesman Lt. Col. Roger Cabiness said.

According to charging documents:

Police and West Pierce Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched Tuesday night to a report of an accidental shooting at an apartment in the 8100 block of 83rd Avenue Southwest.

First responders found the solider applying pressure to a wound on the right side of his 21-year-old girlfriend of four months. She told police they had just returned to his apartment after getting dinner when she heard a gunshot and fell to the ground.

He ran to her and began administering first aid and called 911.

The woman told medics her legs were tingling and she could barely feel her toes, but the extent of her injuries are unknown.

The man gave a brief statement at the scene, saying the couple had just gotten back to his apartment from dinner. He always has a pistol with him, and thought he cleared the rounds from it when they returned.

He said he didn’t realize it was loaded until it went off and the bullet hit his girlfriend.

He gave a more detailed interview later, admitting he was playing with the gun and pointed it at his girlfriend, joking he was robbing her. He pulled the trigger, thinking the gun wasn’t loaded.

It was loaded, and the gun went off and shot his girlfriend, he said.