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Questions linger in US soldier's death: Was it a game?


Sgt. Matthew Gallagher.

An Army soldier who says he killed his roommate during a pistol game called “quick draw” remains free even though he's charged with murder, there are questions about evidence in the case, and the dead soldier’s family is calling for answers.

Sgt. Matthew Gallagher, a 22-year-old from Falmouth, Mass., was shot in the head by Sgt. Brent McBride, 25, on June 26, 2011, on their base in Al-Kut, Iraq, according to the Army.

But the details and circumstances of Gallagher’s death remain under investigation.

When first notified of Gallagher’s death weeks after the incident, his widow, Katie Gallagher, and his mother, Cheryl Ruggiero, were left with the impression he was killed in combat.

Last month, in testimony at an investigative hearing in Texas that was recounted by the family in the Boston Globe, they were told Gallagher was playing a game when he pointed his 9mm pistol at McBride, and asked,  “What would you do now?”

McBride drew his own gun and pointed at Gallagher’s head, then pulled the trigger, killing his roommate.

McBride’s attorney called Gallagher’s death "a tragic accident." The attorney said McBride and Gallagher were friends who often played the dangerous game and his client did not know his gun was loaded, according to a report from the Cape Cod Times.

McBride was initially charged with murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, failure to obey a lawful order, and dereliction of duty.

An Army spokesman at Fort Hood, Texas, where the McBride’s unit is based, told msnbc.com on Wednesday that no further legal proceedings are set “pending a review” of the evidence by Army investigators. Military officials have not said if McBride will face court martial.

Gallagher’s family members still seek answers to the killing and doubt McBride’s story about what happened.

“If it was just a game gone awry, I would say it’s two lives ruined,’’ Ruggiero told the Boston Globe. “This is all one big question mark to me, and all I want is answers.’’

Ruggiero points out the McBride said he was two feet away from her son when he fired, but a medical examiner’s report said that the gun was pressed to her son’s head.

Meanwhile, McBride remains on active duty at Fort Hood, according to the Cape Cod Times.

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