Army officials have identified the soldier charged with murder in the killing of Pvt. Abdul Latifu at Fort Rucker, Alabama, on Jan. 10.

Pvt. Brian Jones Jr., a 21-year-old trainee attending the service’s air traffic control operator course, has been in custody since he attacked Latifu, said Lt. Col. Andy Thaggard, the top spokesperson for Fort Rucker and its Aviation Center of Excellence. Jones now faces a murder charge under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The alleged perpetrator remains in pretrial confinement after a review hearing, Thaggard said, meaning he’ll remain in custody until the trial. The military justice system does not have bail.

According to a source with knowledge of the incident, Latifu died after Jones attacked him with an Army-issued entrenching tool, or small folding steel shovel. The victim was a fellow trainee, according to Thaggard.

The spokesperson previously told Army Times the incident occurred just before 11:40 a.m. local time on Jan. 10, when authorities responded to an “altercation” between the two soldiers. It’s not yet clear why the altercation began, and Latifu died that afternoon of his injuries.

Pvt. Abdul N. Latifu, 21, of Bronx, New York City, on Aug. 31, 2022.

Latifu, described by news outlets in Ghana as a Ghanaian-American who hailed from the Bronx, New York, was 21.

Maj. Gen. Michael C. McCurry, Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commander, described Latifu as a “promising young soldier” and offered condolences to the family in a Jan. 11 statement. “Our hearts are with the families and units impacted by the incident, and we are focused on taking care of Soldiers, families, and leaders.”

It’s not yet clear when Jones’ trial will begin.

Military Times Pentagon bureau chief Meghann Myers contributed to this report.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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