Wainwright Soldier Accidentally Shot Himself in Head, Police Say

Fairbanks police say a Fort Wainwright soldier who died in an accidental shooting Sunday shot himself with the single round remaining in the weapon's chamber, after removing its magazine.

In a Tuesday update on the death of Sgt. Nathan Michael Higginbotham, Fairbanks police spokesman Officer Doug Welborn said officers responded to a home on the 3700 block of Geraghty Street just before 3 a.m. Sunday to investigate the shooting. Paramedics found him slumped over a couch, and declared him dead at the scene.

"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. Preliminary investigation indicates Higginbotham had been consuming alcohol."

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

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