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Alaskan asks friend to shoot his leg to avoid military duty, now faces charges

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

A man from the Southcentral Alaska town of Kenai apparently convinced a friend to shoot him in the leg in order to avoid returning to his Marine Corps post, The Peninsula Clarion reports. And now he will likely be charged with third-degree misconduct involving weapons and tampering with physical evidence.

On May 22, Ian West, 19, told his 17-year-old friend he did not want to return to the military and asked the friend to shoot him in the leg. The friend agreed and shot West.

However, when West failed to report for military duty in California on July 3, his commanding officer issued a deserter warrant. The state of Alaska acted on that warrant on Aug. 1, arresting West on deserter charges, despite his injury.

West was held in jail for 20 days. Previously to his arrest, he had reported the shooting to the Kenai Police Dept., but apparently the cops never relayed the message to Marine Corps personnel.

The Marine Corps was not aware of West's injuries. West's lawyer, Kevin Fitzgerald, believes the Kenai police should have alerted the Marines to his client's injury, which could have prevented the deserter warrant from being issued in the first place.

Since learning of West's injury the Marines have dropped the deserter charges against him, but the state has not. As of Sept. 8, official charges have been filed against West.

West was a private assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group based out of Pendleton, Calif.

Read more at The Peninsula Clarion.