FAIRBANKS—Fairbanks police have investigated a fatal Sunday morning shooting and concluded that it was caused by a soldier firing a gun at his head as an ill-conceived way to demonstrate that the gun was not loaded.

The man, Sgt. Nathan Michael Higginbotham, 25, died early Sunday morning at a friend's home on Geraghty Avenue near University Avenue.

Fairbanks police on Tuesday released more information on the suspected cause of the shooting. Higginbotham had removed a magazine from his personally owned handgun, but one round became loaded into the chamber when he ran the slide to remove the magazine.

"Higginbotham was in the process of confirming his personally owned .40-caliber Springfield XD was unloaded while at his acquaintance's residence," a Police Department news release stated. "Higginbotham reportedly discharged the weapon at his head during this process to confirm with his friend it was unloaded."

The preliminary police investigation indicated that Higginbotham had been drinking alcohol. His body is being sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

The police investigation remains active, and police ask anyone with information to call detective Scott Adams at 450-6552 or email him at saadams@ci.fairbanks.ak.us.

A previous police statement reported incorrectly that the gun was a 9mm handgun, not a .40-caliber.

Contact outdoors editor Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.