1st Female Green Beret Faces 'Minor Misdemeanor' Charge for Accidentally Firing Gun, Police Say

Green Berets conducting urban movement training at Fort Bragg
Green Berets conducting urban movement training in July at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (U.S. Army/Spc. Peter Seidler)

Five months after becoming the first female Green Beret, a National Guard soldier is facing a civilian misdemeanor charge for accidentally firing a pistol inside a Colorado apartment.

In July, the soldier, whose identity has been kept secret, graduated from the grueling, 53-week Special Forces Qualification Course (Q Course) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, becoming the first woman to earn the Special Forces tab and coveted Green Beret.

On Dec. 12, she allegedly discharged a handgun by accident inside an apartment in Colorado Springs.

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Army 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) released a statement about the incident.

"Our command is engaged with local authorities regarding an incident involving one of our soldiers and an apparent accidental discharge of a firearm at an off-post residence in Colorado Springs," Maj. Dan Lessard, spokesperson for 1st SF Command, said in the statement.

"While the handgun was discharged inside an apartment, no injuries occurred. Because the incident occurred off-post, local authorities have jurisdiction. We will continue to coordinate with local authorities and closely monitor the civilian case as it moves towards resolution in municipal court."

While the statement does not mention the Green Beret, Lessard told Military.com that the story by Connecting Vets -- the first outlet to report on the incident -- "is factual."

U.S. Army Special Operations Command has a policy that prohibits releasing the names of its members because of their "unique missions," USASOC officials have said in the past.

As the first female graduate of the Q Course, the soldier "excelled throughout the course and earned the respect of both her instructors and her peer group," a senior Army official told Military.com in June.

After graduating the Q-Course, Green Berets typically are assigned to 12-member operational detachment alpha (ODA) teams, which are made up of weapons, communications, intelligence, engineer and medical specialists.

After the alleged accidental discharge, the soldier received a summons to appear in court for the "minor misdemeanor charge," Lt. James Sokolik with the Colorado Springs Police Department told Military.com, adding that her court appearance will likely occur sometime in January or February.

Since no one was injured in the incident, Sokolik said this an "extremely minor charge."

Weapons safety is constantly stressed by all branches of the U.S. military, but accidental, or negligent, discharges do happen.

An April 12, 2019 incident ended in tragedy when former Marine Cpl. Spencer Daily fatally shot his roommate, Cpl. Tyler Wallingford, in the barracks at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.

Daily had been drinking heavily. As the two Marines sat playing video games, Daily pointed a handgun at Wallingford in a "teasing way" and pulled the trigger, sending a bullet into his fellow Marine's head, killing him.

Daily was dishonorably discharged and is now serving a 69-month prison sentence at Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan, South Carolina.

--Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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