Navy officer charged in shooting on Guam
July 27, 2005
A Navy officer who claimed he was shot at U.S. Naval Base Guam’s Polaris Point last month has been charged with five violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Lt. j.g. Matthew S. Cornue was an electronics materials officer aboard the San Diego-based nuclear-powered submarine USS Helena when he was shot June 4 while on watch, said Lt. E.J. Reynolds, Commander Submarine Squadron 11 spokesman, in a written statement to Stars and Stripes.
Several days after the incident, Navy officials on Guam said they suspected the act was self-inflicted. The shooting occurred the night before the Helena was to return to San Diego following a port visit to Guam.
Charges against the sailor include failure to obey an order or regulation, making a false official statement, conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, and malingering. Malingering, as defined by Article 115 of the UCMJ, is when a person, for the purpose of avoiding work, duty or service, either feigns illness, physical disablement, mental lapse or derangement or intentionally inflicts self-injury.
Cornue also was charged with Article 134 — a general article that addresses three categories of offenses not specifically covered in any other article, including those that either impact good order and discipline or bring discredit upon the armed forces, and noncapital crimes that violate federal law.
The investigation’s focus shifted to Cornue after a massive search on Guam failed to turn up any suspects and Navy divers found the weapon believed used in about 30 feet of water off the wharf where the shooting occurred.
Reynolds wouldn’t say whether Cornue admitted to pulling the trigger. He did state, however, that “there is no indication that this shooting was related to any outside criminal or terrorist activity. Navy divers found the small-caliber gun they believe was used to shoot Cornue in Polaris Point, Guam, on June 5 and have determined it belonged to him.”
The .25-caliber handgun, registered to Cornue in California, was not a Navy-issued weapon, Navy officials on Guam said last month.
Cornue sustained a small-caliber gunshot wound to his left shoulder and was transported to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, for surgery. On July 7, he was listed in stable condition, Reynolds said. His specific injuries are protected under the Privacy Act, but the sailor is no longer hospitalized and is temporarily assigned to Commander Submarine Squadron 11 in San Diego, Reynolds said.
“As a result of the Navy’s investigation, appropriate disciplinary and administrative action will (be) taken against the servicemember,” Reynolds wrote. “Charges have been preferred and Article 32 procedures are in progress in San Diego.”
Similar to a grand jury hearing, an Article 32 is the military’s preliminary investigation into the charges to determine if it’s reasonable to believe that the accused committed the alleged crimes.