SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A firearm stationed aboard the USS Boxer (LHD-4) has been charged with negligence, reckless endangerment and assault after it wounded a sailor on watch, sources reported Friday.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Jesse Boyer was standing the ship’s midnight topside rover watch when the M4 rifle suddenly opened fire, striking Boyer in the left foot. Doctors at Bob Wilson Naval Hospital stated that Boyer is in stable condition, but will probably never skate again.
“The weapon was in Condition 3 when I sent [Boyer] off,” said Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Travis Dyson, the ship’s armorer and clearing barrel supervisor that day. “It must have charged itself and taken itself off ‘safe.’ These rifles have a mind of their own.”
“I would never deviate from clearing barrel procedures,” he quickly added.
The M4A1 carbine — a 5.56mm, magazine-fed, gas-operated, air-cooled, shoulder-fired weapon — had no previous history of indiscriminate violence, firing only at targets it intended to shoot.
“I certainly never tried to pass the time on watch by playing around with the weapon, or pulled the charging handle at any point, and I most certainly did not squeeze the trigger when I was startled awake,” Boyer said.
Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Andrew Lawson corroborated Boyer’s account.
“Boyer hadn’t checked in over the radio for quite some time, so I went topside to investigate. I found him in a dark corner behind the ship’s refueling station,” said Lawson.
“I called out to make sure everything was okay, when the weapon snapped and engaged Boyer,” he continued. “I then neutralized the threat by subduing it with non-lethal tactics.”
Lawson then escorted the violent carbine to the ship’s brig, where it was held for three days on bread-and-water before being awarded 60 days restriction, with a date for court-martial pending.
At press time, the miscreant firearm had been turned over to the disgruntled engineer with a DUI who had just been docked a half-month’s pay for two months.
The M4 could not be reached for comment.