A young member of the Iowa Army National Guard died Jan. 26, a day after his roommate accidentally shot him with a handgun in Ankeny, Iowa, while drinking, according to court records and local news reports.

Spc. Eli Reed was an infantryman assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, which falls under the 34th Infantry Divison’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

He was a recent graduate of Airborne School and Ranger School, according to a Facebook post on his battalion’s official page.

Reed was also a student at Iowa State University and a member of the ROTC battalion there, according to his obituary.

“[Reed] had a bright future ahead of him,” the post said. “He will be greatly missed in the Battalion and will always be remembered[.]”

Reed was accidentally shot by his roommate and fellow Iowa Guard member John Peak III, who is now charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to online court records.

Peak was intoxicated when he fired his handgun, according to We Are Iowa Local 5 News, and local police said he called 911 immediately following the accident.

“These young men were best friends getting ready to start the best years of their lives,” said Alfredo Parrish, Peak’s attorney, in a statement to Army Times. “John and Eli met going to boot camp and immediately bonded. The pain of this tragedy for both families and John is unbearable.”

Reed’s family detailed their grief in his obituary, remembering him as “dedicated, determined, strong-willed, intelligent, admirable, resolute, honorable, loving, jovial, and a real goofball.”

A fundraiser to offset Reed’s funeral expenses and medical bills had met its initial goal as of Wednesday afternoon.

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.

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