Alaska News

Wainwright soldier accidentally shot himself in head, Fairbanks police say

A Fort Wainwright soldier, who died of a single gunshot wound Sunday, shot himself with a single round left in the gun's chamber after the magazine was removed, the Fairbanks Police Department said.

Fairbanks police officers responded to a home on the 3700 block of Geraghty Street just before 3 a.m. Sunday to investigate the shooting, police spokesperson Officer Doug Welborn said Tuesday.

Paramedics found Sgt, Nathan Higginbotham slumped over a couch and declared him dead at the scene. He suffered a single gunshot wound to the head. According to Welborn, Higginbotham, 25, had been consuming alcohol.

A 9mm pistol was recovered from Higginbotham at the scene, police said Monday.

"Investigation revealed Higginbotham was in the process of confirming his personally owned .40 caliber Springfield XD was unloaded while at his acquaintance's residence," Welborn wrote. "He had run the slide on the firearm and ejected the loaded magazine. Higginbotham never cleared the chamber of the live round which had been loaded when he ran the slide. Higginbotham reportedly discharged the weapon at his head during this process to confirm with his friend it was unloaded."

Higginbotham's body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Higginbotham -- originally from ?Schenectady, New York -- was a member of the 5th Squadron in the 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Formerly assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, he served in Iraq in 2011 before being assigned to Fort Wainwright in 2013.

Megan Edge

Megan Edge is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.