The suicide of a 20-year-old Pakistani-American Muslim, Raheel Siddiqui, could lead to punishment or charges against 20 officers and enlisted leaders for hazing, officials said Thursday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Marine officials told investigators that a drill instructor hit Siddiqui and called him a terrorist.
Three internal investigations revealed Siddiqui leapt from the balcony of a barracks building to his death in March at the Parris Island Recruit Depot after the drill instructor slapped him in the face.
The investigation reportedly found that on March 18th, Siddiqui complained of having a sore throat and requested permission to visit the infirmary without following the proper procedure. The drill instructor made him run from one end of the barracks to the other. Siddiqui’s death was ruled as a suicide following an autopsy, however, the Siddiqui’s family’s lawyer said they “always suspected hazing of some sort.”
As a high school valedictorian from the suburbs of Detroit, Siddiqui enlisted in the Marines with the hope of gettng into the FBI someday. He had no history of mental illness but within a week of being on Parris Island Siddiqui threatened to kill himself , officials told the Journal.
Siddiqui reportedly took back his suicide threat and mental health staff at the boot camp found him “motivated to train” and released him, according to newspaper sources.
Marine officials said it was only four days later when Siddiqui fell to the floor, crying and then appeared unresponsive during the running punishment at the barracks. Siddiqui was ordered to stand up and when he didn’t comply, the drill instructor smacked him in the face at least three times in an action the investigation referred to as an assault strictly improper during boot camp.
According to officials, it was at that moment when Siddiqui ran out of the barracks and jumped over the third-floor railing of the balcony. He was pronounced death within hours of his body colliding with steel railing on a stairwell below, reports the Journal.
Marine officials have said the three most senior Marines in charge of Siddiqui’s unit have since been terminated and other enlisted officials have been removed from command, pending possible charges or administrative punishment. The investigation also alleges the enlisted officials have violated a range of policies, including those against hazing and verbal and physical abuse.
According to an investigative report by Maj. Gen. James Lukeman of the service’s training and education command in Quantico, Virginia, a hearing has been scheduled for the next several weeks will determine whether criminal or administrative proceedings will be in order.
“When America’s men and women commit to becoming Marines, we make a promise to them,” Marine Commandant Gen. Bob Neller said in a statement to the Journal. “We pledge to train them with firmness, fairness, dignity and compassion.
“We mourn the loss of Recruit Siddiqui, and we will take every step necessary to prevent tragic events like this from happening again,” he added.