Army Sgt. Christopher Shepler has been charged with stealing machine gun parts and a smoke grenade, which led to a brigade-wide search at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
A noncommissioned officer from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Shepler was charged with larceny and loss of military property, according to a statement from the 7th Infantry Division, originally reported by Military.com.
Officials allege, in charges filed in October, that Shepler stole an M2 .50-caliber machine gun receiver, an M240 machine gun barrel and a smoke grenade. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, a sister company to Shepler’s, reported the missing part of the .50-caliber piece on Oct. 7, which began a brigade-wide hunt for the missing parts.
Messages obtained by Military.com provided details that showed leadership at the base asking subordinates to look for the weapon — and identified Shepler as a “person of interest.” The entire brigade was called in to look for the weapon on what was supposed to be a four-day weekend.
All items, other than the M2 .50-caliber receiver, were recovered.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.