Image: Jacob Brouch is arraigned on a second-degree murder charge at the Anchorage Jail
Bill Roth  /  AP
Jacob Brouch is arraigned on a second-degree murder charge at the Anchorage Jail Monday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/8/2011 6:03:00 AM ET 2011-03-08T11:03:00

An Alaska-based soldier told police a fellow soldier asked for a bullet to put in a gun's empty cylinder before he fatally shot himself during a drunken game of Russian roulette, according to court documents filed Monday.

Jacob Brouch is charged with second-degree murder and weapons misconduct in the death of his 26-year-old Army friend — Michael McCloskey — following the early Sunday shooting at Brouch's home in Eagle River, an Anchorage suburb.

Police said Brouch's wife and two children were in the home at the time.

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Brouch, 25, told police he was playing Russian roulette in a back bedroom of the home Saturday afternoon while McCloskey watched.

Brouch said he could see the bottom of the single bullet in the cylinder, so he knew he was safe, something he later told McCloskey, according to the charging documents.

"I f---ing hate this game," McCloskey told Brouch, the Anchorage Daily News reported, citing the court documents.

But Brouch apparently kept going: "I did it again and that time I pointed it at my head and clicked," he said, according to the Daily News report.

Facebook photos
Later the same day, McCloskey asked if they could pose with the revolver and another gun for his Facebook page, then the two posed in various photos including each pointing a weapon at each other and at themselves while they were intoxicated, according to the charging documents.

"The photos included them pointing the firearms at each other and at themselves and staged to look like they were wrestling around, fighting for control of the guns, or contemplating suicide," the Daily News report said, citing the court papers.

Brouch told police the weapons were then put away, and the two continued to drink.

At some point, McCloskey asked to see the revolver again, Brouch told police. The two exchanged a few words in a "Russian accent," according to Brouch, but he didn't remember exactly what was said.

Brouch got out the revolver and emptied the cylinder, then handed it to McCloskey, who spun the empty chamber a couple times, the court papers say.

Brouch told police McCloskey asked for a single round. The court documents say Brouch had previously told responding officers that McCloskey said he was going to "play a game" before he shot himself.

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McCloskey spun the cylinder and then pulled the trigger, Brouch told police.

"Brouch said he expected to hear a click but he heard a deafening bang because McCloskey had shot himself in the abdomen losing the game of 'Russian Roulette,'" the documents state.

Brouch called the emergency dispatcher, and McCloskey was taken to an Anchorage hospital, where he died soon after.

Murder charge
Brouch was dressed in a yellow prison outfit when he appeared in court Monday at the Anchorage jail.

His bail was set at $250,000 and his case assigned to the Alaska Public Defender Agency until the court determines if he can afford to hire an attorney. The agency said no attorney has yet been assigned to represent Brouch.

His wife cried during the hearing and declined to speak to reporters after the proceedings concluded, the Daily News report said.

Officials at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson say both men were assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at the Anchorage post.

The second-degree murder charge was filed under the "Extreme Indifference" theory recognized by the Alaska state Senate, which has provided commentary on the matter, assistant district attorney Gustaf Olson wrote in the charging documents.

"The Commentary provides that: 'The defendant need not necessarily know that his conduct is substantially certain to cause death or serious physical injury,'" Olson wrote.

"'An example of conduct covered by this provision would be shooting through a tent under circumstances where the defendant did not know a person was inside or persuading a person to play 'Russian Roulette,'" he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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