08:34 GMT +319 November 2019
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    US Army cadets make their way through campus at the United States Military Academy in West Point. (File)

    Search Effort Widens for US Military Cadet Who Went Missing With Assault Rifle

    © AFP 2019 / DON EMMERT
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    US Military Academy officials are looking for cadet Kade Kurita, 20, who disappeared from the academy at West Point in New York on Friday with an M4 carbine assault rifle.

    A spokesperson for the US Military Academy, also known as West Point, told Military.com that Kurita was getting ready to compete in a military skills event, which could have secured him a spot at the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition next year, before he went missing.

    "They do ruck marches, land navigation. There is some rifle marksmanship; there is some obstacle-course stuff," Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt told Military.com, describing the training for the Sandhurst competition.

    "They had drawn their weapons to start going out. He was right outside the barracks, which is where the arms rooms are," Ophardt noted.

    West Point officials have said that they think Kurita may be a threat to himself but not to others.

    "He left his rucksack, Kevlar helmet and all of his magazines," Ophardt added, although he did not reveal why officials believe the cadet may be a threat to himself.

    Despite the news of the missing cadet, West Point is still operating normally. Around 130 soldiers from Fort Drum’s 23rd Military Police Company joined a team of 400 people including West Point staff and state and local law enforcement to search for the cadet on Monday. Military and New York State Police helicopters and drones were also involved in the search, and New York State Police have been using sonar technology to search various lakes and ponds around the academy. 

    “There has been no cellphone or financial activity in over 72 hours,” Col. Cecil Marson, garrison commander of West Point, confirmed Tuesday, Record Online reported. “This leads us to believe that he is still in the vicinity of West Point.”

    The search effort has already spanned more than 2,000 acres in the West Point cantonment area, according to Military.com.

    "We are confining the search to the cantonment area because that's where we believe, based on the evidence, he is," Ophardt said.

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