The Marine sentry shot and killed by a fellow Marine at the Camp Lejeune main gate Tuesday was temporarily assigned to sentry duty, according to base officials.
Lance Cpl. Mark N. Boterf, 21, of Crawley, Texas, was in the guard shack that separates the base’s incoming and outgoing traffic lanes when he was shot in the chest by a fellow Marine sentry at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Boterf joined the Marine Corps in August 2012 and was trained as a special intelligence system communicator. His decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, according to information released late Wednesday.
Family members told media that Boterf volunteered to serve as a sentry so another Marine could take leave and get married. He was assigned to 2nd Radio Battalion.
The shooter, who has yet to be identified by Marine officials, is in custody and being questioned by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Marine officials said Wednesday that the shooting was likely the result of a negligent discharge of the Marine in custody’s M4 Carbine.
In a public statement early Wednesday morning during the opening ceremony at Marine South, a technology exposition aboard Camp Lejeune, Brig. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East, briefly addressed the incident.
“I ask … that your hearts and prayers go out to the family and to the community as a whole; to the Marines and all the civilian Marines who work on this base and all of the Onslow County Community,” he said. “It’s a tough loss for us and we will get through it as a community.”
Marine officials said Wednesday that due to processing times of forensic evidence, it will be weeks before NCIS will know for certain if the shooting was the result of a negligent discharge of the Marine in custody’s weapon.
Scott Propheter, a Marine veteran and associate at Guerrilla Armament in Jacksonville, said the shooter would be to blame in the case of a negligent discharge, because that would indicate weapon was functioning properly.
“If a weapon is being handled properly, something like this will absolutely not happen,” Propheter said. “It takes negligence on the part of the person handling the weapon for someone to be harmed with that weapon. Now, if it were an accidental discharge, the weapon would have malfunctioned even though everything was done properly.”
The M4 Carbine is a semi-automatic rifle used widely within the military as a standard issue weapon. The M4 has a selector switch that allows the shooter to place the weapon on safe, preventing the rifle from firing; semi-automatic, which allows the weapon to fire one round each time the trigger is pulled; or three-round burst, which fires the weapon three times with one trigger pull. One round was fired in Tuesday’s shooting, according to base officials.
Every Marine, both officer and enlisted, are trained on handling procedures, firing and maintenance of the M4 Carbine, according to Marine Corps Training and Education Command documents.
As far as the weapon accidentally firing, Propheter said, there is little to no chance of that happening. The M4, he explained, is a very reliable and safe weapon.
The design of the weapon system keeps accidental discharges from happening; and to fire the weapon, the trigger needs to be pulled deliberately while the weapon’s safe mode is off, he said.
“I’ve used these weapons, dropped them and done ridiculous things with them and never had one accidentally discharge,” Propheter said. “In order for that weapon to be discharged into another Marine, the shooter would have violated standard operating procedures by charging the weapon and putting a round in the chamber. That takes a very deliberate act and then on top of that he would have violated multiple weapons safety rules in order for the Marine to get shot.
“These things just don’t happen by mistake.”
Thomas Brennan is a reporter for the Jacksonville Daily News.