APPLE VALLEY, Calif. – A soldier trying to avoid redeployment to Iraq had a friend shoot him in the leg and then claimed he'd been wounded in a holdup, authorities said.
Army Pfc. Matthew John Myers, 20, of Apple Valley, limped into a minimart about 9:30 p.m. Sunday and reported he had been walking on a golf course when a gunman stole his wallet and military identification and shot him in the right thigh, authorities said.
A helicopter search failed to find a robber and San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies became suspicious of the story because they could not find a blood trail or any shell casings and Myers could not describe the attacker.
Also, Myers "had stated that he was walking alone when the suspect came up and shot him, then ran away," sheriff's Sgt. Todd Newton said. "But when deputies went back to investigate they found two sets of footprints that had been walking side by side for some time."
"We were out looking for the suspect, and things just weren't adding up," sheriff's spokeswoman Trish Hill said.
Myers was questioned and finally told investigators that a friend, Daniel Dotterrer, 20, shot him with a .32-caliber revolver so that he could avoid returning to Iraq, Newton said.
Dotterrer also confessed that they had staged the shooting, Newton said.
"I don't think he realized how serious this situation was. I think he thought he was just helping out a friend," Newton said. "He realized it wasn't a real good idea when the deputies showed up at his home."
Myers could not be reached for comment Tuesday. There was no Apple Valley telephone listing with his name. A phone call made to a D. Dotterrer in the city was not immediately returned.
Neither man was arrested but the results of the investigations will be turned over to county prosecutors, sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire said Tuesday.
The district attorney's office will decide whether to file criminal charges. Dotterrer could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon and firing a gun in an inhabited area, Newton said.
Myers was treated at a hospital and released but doctors did not remove the bullet because of possible complications, sheriff's Sgt. Randy Gwaltney said.
Myers is with the 101st Airborne Division and stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
He was home on leave and was expected to return to active duty, Hill said.
It was not immediately clear when he was supposed to return to Iraq.