MONROVIA – The Ministry of National Defense has released its findings into the investigation into the Star Base shooting incident that led to the death of two soldiers and the subsequent suicide by the perpetrator, Sargent Prince Tucker.
Seargent Tucker though deceased has been recommended for prosecution for violating several articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
The incident occurred on the night of June 6, 2022, at the Star Base duty station of the AFL on Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia.
Following the incident, the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia launched a probe to identify and establish the personnel of the AFL and other sectors of the society who might have links or information and circumstances surrounding the incident.
The investigation was also intended to unearth the motive(s) behind the unfortunate incident, establish possible gaps or weakness(es) of the system that might have led to the incident, and any other issues that may become of relevance to the investigation and subsequent actions to be taken by the AFL.
In a report released in Monrovia on Monday, the Ministry disclosed that Sergeant Tucker, Prince of the Armed Forces of Liberia Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (EOD) assigned at Star Base on the night of the incident, not being on active assignment or duty walked at the duty post (Adjepako Gate) where two soldiers should have been assigned on duty.
The ministry pointed out that unfortunately one of the personnel assigned had left without his weapon with his duty mate with permission to use the restroom within the accommodation area where weapons are not allowed.
“At about 2155hrs, 6 June 2022 Sergeant Tucker, Prince (deceased) entered the Star Base through the Adjepako Gate where it was manned at this time by one personnel. The assigned weapon of the other duty soldier who has left to use the restroom was staged in the security booth at the Adjepako Gate. Sergeant Tucker Prince (deceased) walked into the security booth towards the staged weapon and picked it up leaving the security booth with an AK 47 Rifle with serial number LR/AFL/AB/5083-490 and butt stock number: C-1-142 along with the magazine with rounds inserted without permission”.
The ministry maintained that without being challenged by the personnel on duty at the Adjepako Gate Sergeant Tucker, Prince (Deceased) walked at the back of the security booth towards the living quarters avoiding the main route.
After he walked for about 34 meters, the ministry pointed out that, Sergeant Tucker Prince shot the first round of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition.
“The sound of the gunfire raised concern among soldiers and civilian dependents at the base,” the report stated.
It added that upon hearing a gunshot, Sergeant Sanders, Edwin (Injured) walked towards where he suspected the gunshot to have come from and asked “ whose shooting out here?” while pointing the torchlight in the direction of the shooter.
The investigation reveals that Sergeant Tucker Prince (Deceased) aimed the AK 47 rifle at Sergeant Sanders, Edwin (Injured) while walking towards him and asked “who wants to know who is shooting out here….do you want to die?”.
“However, Sergeant Sanders (Injured) considering the situation decided to persuade and discourage Sergeant Tucker, Prince (Deceased) from taking such actions. But seeing the determination of Sergeant Tucker Prince to shoot him he decided to take off, knowing he was vulnerable without a weapon”.
“Unfortunately, Sergeant Tucker Prince was only about 5 meters away from Sergeant Sanders Edwin, and shot him with the AK 47 he illegally obtained from the security booth with a live 7.62 X 39mm round. Sergeant Sanders, Edwin being shot began to shout for help and also said that he has been killed by Sergeant Tucker, Prince. This brought the entire base into a state of confusion and chaos”.
The report divulged that “in no time Sergeant Tucker Prince realizing his action turned and placed the muzzle of the AK 47 into his mouth and pulled the trigger shooting himself through his mouth with a live 7.62 X 39 mm ammunition, which left him dead”.
According to the report, Sergeant Sanders, Edwin, was taken into surgery, and a 7.62 x 39 mm projectile was extracted from his lower left abdomen on June 7, 2022. He is currently responding to medical treatment.
Charging the deceased, others
The Ministry of National Defense and the AFL, however, recommended key charges against Sergeant Tucker, Prince (EN/2008-04/1177), now deceased under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
It called for prosecution in keeping with Articles 80 (Attempt to Commit Murder), 128 (Aggravated Assault), 134 (Firearm, discharging willfully, under circumstances, has to endanger human life, 92 (Failure to obey order or regulation) of the UCMJ.
At the same time, five other personnel of the AFL stationed at Star Base were also recommended for allegedly violating Articles 77 (Principals), 81(conspiracy), 92 (Dereliction in performance of duty), 134 (False Swearing), 92 (Failure to obey order or regulation) of the same UCMJ.
Motive behind shooting unknown
The investigative report failed to establish the motive behind the shooting incident which took away the life of a soldier.
“The public can be assured that all is under control and that calm has resumed at the Star Base with other security and personnel safety actions being instituted. The Ministry of National Defense and Headquarters Armed Forces of Liberia acknowledge that protecting military installations and the people who work and live there from such incidents is a major undertaking”.
The ministry, however, vowed that identifying security solutions and gaps on installations where they served has always been a priority and all recommendations coming from the investigation will be taken seriously.
“The families of the victims have been contacted and all necessary assistance or support for them has been considered including funeral arrangements for the deceased”.
Working with families
The Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia has been working with the families of the two personnel by providing moral and social support.
In addition, the report disclosed that, the family of the deceased soldier was also present at an important part of the investigation by the Chief Coroner of the Republic of Liberia.
“The family of the deceased has been briefed on the outcome of the investigation and pledged to work with the Armed Forces of Liberia in this period of an unfortunate incident”.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia conveyed their sympathy and condolences to the family of Sergeant Prince Tucker (EN/2008-04/1177) of the Armed Forces of Liberia Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) who lost his life on June 6, 2022, as a result of a self-inflated injury.
“Secondly, the Ministry further wishes to extend its regret to the family of Sergeant Sander, Edwin who heroically sustained injuries as a result of a gunshot wound to his lower right abdomen and right elbow in an attempt to prevent possible injuries or deaths of personnel and residents of Star Base. The Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia also wish to extend their warmest appreciation to the Administration and Medical Staff of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center for the level of pre and post-medical care accorded to Sergent Sanders, Edwin”.
The report disclosed that the investigation was carried out methodically with the collection and preservation of physical evidence, the preservation of the incident scene to include a total lock-down of the base.
In addition, the wounded soldier was moved immediately to the John F. Kenedy Medical Center in Sinkor, while the deceased was kept in position awaiting the Homicide Unit of the Liberia National Police and the Chief Coroner of the Republic of Liberia interventions as per the Armed Forces of Liberia Standard Operating Procedure.
It is important to note that the Armed Forces of Liberia and other state actors have completed the investigation as it relates to the shooting incident on the night of June 6, 2022, and the general public is informed that the following are established:
“The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of National Defense will continue to provide all necessary support to our gallant men and women in arms to uphold the Liberian Constitution and safeguard the territorial integrity of Liberia as “A Force for Good”.