The bullet that killed a Navy SEAL during a training exercise struck him in the upper chest, even though he was wearing a bulletproof vest, DeSoto County officials said Friday.
"This was a very unfortunate training accident," DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco said. "He was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was struck, but the bullet went through a gap in the vest and killed him."
Coroner Jeffery Pounders said the bullet first passed through a wall before striking the victim.No one has been charged.The Navy on Friday identified the SEAL as PO2 Shapoor Alexander Ghane Jr., 22, of Las Vegas.
His identity was released as naval investigators arrived in the county to begin looking into the death, which occurred Wednesday during a close-quarters combat training exercise at Mid-South Institute of Self-Defense Shooting in Lake Cormorant, near Walls.
Cmdr. Mark Blackson, who is heading the investigation for the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department, said some issues remain unresolved and he could not discuss them Friday."I'm certain that the Navy intends to thoroughly investigate what happened in this instance and to take precautions that similar accidents not happen in the future," Blackson said.He said Navy SEALs "have used that facility (in Lake Cormorant) for many years in training very similar to that in which the young man was killed."
Ross Sanders, manager of the training facility, said earlier that the death was the first in the more-than-20-year history of the facility being used for training by the military and law enforcement agencies.
The Navy issued a written statement about the death Friday from Ghane's base in San Diego."Alex Ghane will always be remembered as a true friend and a dedicated SEAL," said Ghane's Task Unit Operational Commander. "He was particularly proud of earning his Trident (badge) and would do anything asked of him with a smile."Alex died doing what he loved. He died a SEAL, with his teammates around him. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family."
In the statement released through the Navy, Ghane's family said:"Our family is devastated at the sudden loss of Alexander Ghane. He will be forever missed by his mother, Farideh Ghane; sister, Tala Ghane, and fiancée Tina Borys. "He was a wonderful son, great brother and true patriot. Alexander enjoyed life and loved being a Navy SEAL."
Ghane enlisted in the Navy June 30, 2004, and performed his boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.He entered SEAL training in November 2004 at Coronado, Calif., and was assigned to the West Coast SEAL team in June 2007. Ghane was an expert with a rifle and pistol and had been awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
"He's my hero," his mother, Farideh Ghane, said. "I call him my champ. I salute him, my champion." He was based in San Diego, but his family lives in Las Vegas.His mother said her son dreamed of becoming a SEAL since he was a teenager and wanted to go to Iraq.Last week, he proposed to his girlfriend and was supposed to make it official on Valentine's Day."He told his mom he had something for me for Valentine's Day, and I knew that was going to be it," his fiancee Tina Borys said.
Ghane's SEAL team mates described him as driven and dedicated."Alex died doing what he loved. He died a SEAL, with his teammates around him," said Ghane's unit commander, whose identity was withheld because of classified nature of the team's missions.Ghane joined the Navy in June 2004 and entered SEAL training in November 2004. He joined the West Coast seal teams in June 2007."Our family is devastated at the sudden loss of Alexander," his family said in a statement released by the Navy. "We are proud of him, proud of all of his accomplishments and the man that he had become."