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Drunk Army ranger chokes Black security guard to death

Patrick Byrne is facing murder charges following the death of 41-year-old Denise Smith.

Army ranger Corbis via Getty Images

An Army ranger is facing murder charges in connection with the death of a security guard who prevented him from entering a building in Tacoma, Washington.

As NBC affiliate KING-TV reported, following a bar fight in downtown Tacoma on July 18, Patrick Byrne walked to an office building and was denied entry. When he didn’t comply, Denise Smith, a recently-hired security guard, opened the door, and he attempted to push past her, prompting a nearly 10-minute tussle. In court documents, prosecutors claim he punched the guard and dragged her by her braid before allegedly stealing her keys, stabbing her with them and eventually choking her to death.

Byrne then allegedly disposed of Smith’s body and went to a conference room where he threw around furniture. He was later spotted lying on concrete, where he rested after taking a 14-foot jump from a landing. Per the Daily Mail, a bystander noticed Byrne crying for help and called 911. He was taken to a hospital, where he claimed that he was a victim of a beating and sexual assault. As of now, neither of the allegations are backed by evidence.

According to investigators, Smith’s body was discovered at 6 am but was so badly beaten, she was unrecognizable. Amid an investigation into her death, detectives reviewed footage of the encounter, and Byrne was taken into custody. He told authorities that he blacked out after a night of drinking and didn’t remember the incident.

During a court hearing on Friday (July 23), he maintained his innocence when he pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree kidnapping. He is currently being held at Pierce County Jail, and his bail is set at $2 million.

The US Army issued the following statement about the tragic incident: “The actions described in reports are absolutely appalling. The Tacoma Police Department has the full cooperation of the United States Army Special Operations Command. Our deepest condolences to the families affected by this tragedy.”

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