FORT DRUM — A video on a former soldier’s TikTok app apparently showing him overcome in fear when a gun was pointed at him prompted an investigation by Fort Drum’s Criminal Investigation Division last month.
The video posted by Spc. Kyle Benton on his TikTok account made its way back to Fort Drum officials. The 17-second video also has been the subject of media reports in the New York Post and Military.com., a website that provides information to members of the military, veterans and their families.
The video shows Mr. Benton making sure that a Beretta M9 semiautomatic piston wasn’t loaded before laying the weapon down in front of another soldier. The exchange was recorded by the other soldier.
In the video, Mr. Benton says the weapon is “clear” before he turns away from the second soldier and then turns back toward him, who aims what appears to be the loaded pistol directly at Mr. Benton.
Mr. Benton looks frightened, asking “what are you doing, sergeant?” then repeating the word “whoa” four times before the video abruptly ends.
Mr. Benton told Military.com that he posted the video in June, shortly after leaving the Army. He also said the exchange was staged, claiming the bullets were blanks.
The video then made the rounds at Fort Drum.
Maj. Harold Huff III, Deputy Public Affairs Officer with the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, confirmed the CID investigation of the incident.
Since Mr. Benton is out of the Army, the investigation was closed, he said. The former infantryman declined to be interviewed by Fort Drum investigators. The identity of the second soldier was not determined.
If it was staged or not, Maj. Huff said it was “a gross misuse of a firearm.”
“The individual in this video is no longer serving in the Army,” Maj. Huff said in a statement.
“He departed military service prior to our awareness of this incident. U.S. Army soldiers are trained from the first day in Basic Training to respect all firearms. Military service is a sacred profession and this horrific video does not represent our values.”
It appears only Mr. Benton and the unidentified second soldier will ever know what really happened.
“I just want people to stop thinking I was the person holding the gun so they can stop threatening me,” Benton told the Military.com. “I will never reveal the person who was holding it.”
Since the video surfaced, Military.com uncovered that Mr. Benton has posted racial comments on Twitter after leaving the military. He also was accused on a local Antifa website of distributing Nazi propaganda at a Black Lives Matter event in Oregon.