Second stray bullet found in community near Camp Hansen
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An inch-by-inch search of the Igei community in Kin on Sunday turned up a second piece of metal, allegedly a stray bullet fired from a live-fire range on adjacent Camp Hansen.
Okinawa police say the bullet, allegedly from an American M2 heavy machine gun, was found about 100 yards from where another round allegedly struck a car during training earlier this month. The first round was found lodged in the license plate of a car on Dec. 14.
The second piece of metal, about 1.8 inches long and under ½ inch in diameter, was found during a search by 230 residents, according to local news reports. They turned out in response to flyers distributed last week by Igei community leaders urging them to search their neighborhood for additional stray rounds.
However, a U.S. Marine spokesman said Monday that the second piece of metal did not appear to be connected to any recent training.
"As part of the Marine Corps’ investigation into the alleged incident where a .50-caliber steel core penetrator was found ... Marine Corps ordnance experts conducted a visit to the location today along with Okinawa Prefectural Police," media relations officer 1st Lt. Adrian Rankine-Galloway wrote in response to a Stripes’ query.
During the visit, the Okinwan police showed the Marines the metal, according to Rankine-Galloway.
"As a result of visual inspection, Marine Corps officials do not believe this second piece of metal is connected with recent Marine Corps training," according to Rankine-Galloway.
The Kin Town Council called for an emergency session Monday evening of its Special Committee on U.S. Military Affairs to address the issue. Masafumi Ikehara, Igei District Mayor, said the object found Sunday looked similar to the first alleged stray round.
"I assume it was fired from Range 7 on Camp Hansen," he said.
The range is about a mile away from the community.
Last week the Director General of the Okinawa Defense Bureau delivered a letter to Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer requesting that live-fire training be temporarily halted until range safety measures are fully reviewed. However, a Marine spokesman said training will continue while they cooperate with Japanese officials to find the source of the bullets.
Rankine-Galloway said information collected during the Marines’ visit to the area will be "used to help determine any possible connection between the piece of metal and any recent Marine Corps training activity."
Rankine-Galloway said, "Any modification of procedures or temporary cessation of training will be dependent upon evidence and an exchange of information with local authorities."
He said the Marines will continue regularly scheduled live-fire training at its ranges in area.