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 an editorial fellow at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa, where he helped produce podcasts. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched humanitarian intervention and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.