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Archie Ingersoll, Forum Communications Co., Published August 07 2010

Grand Forks airman commits suicide

An airman stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base shot and killed himself Friday, base officials said.

The airman was taken from the base to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, base commander Col. Don Shaffer said.

“We’re deeply saddened this morning with news of the death of one of our airmen,” Shaffer said Friday as he stood outside the main entrance to the

base speaking with reporters.

“We take the security of our airmen here on the base very seriously,” he said. “This was an isolated incident, and this was a particular, just one individual who decided to take some action that resulted in the situation.”

Shaffer said the airman was alone and not in a public area when the shooting occurred.

Air Force security personnel, Grand Forks County sheriff’s deputies and paramedics responded to the scene.

The airman, who was not named pending notification of his relatives, was assigned to the 319th Air Refueling Wing, which Shaffer commands.

Citing an ongoing investigation, base officials declined to release more information.

U.S. military suicide rates have lately reached record highs. Airmen are committing suicide at the highest rate in 15 years, the Air Force Times reported in April.

Archie Ingersoll is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald