Volume 35, Issue 1 (January 1990)
Analysis of Gunshot Residue Test Results in 112 Suicides
The results of gunshot residue (GSR) tests in 112 suicide cases investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command over a ten-year period are described. Only suicide cases in which there was certainty that the victim fired a weapon were examined in an effort to reduce ambiguous results. Previous case work research by Rudzitis indicated that positive GSR test results were encountered in suicides 62% of the time using various combinations of neutron activation analysis (NAA) and atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS). Threshold values of 0.2-μg antimony and 0.3-μg barium (0.2-μg antimony and 0.5-μg barium after 1985) used by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory resulted in positive GSR results in suicide cases 38% of the time. The effects of time, location of body, handling of the body, weapon type, caliber, and condition of the hands on GSR results are examined. Case studies involving suicides by unit armorers are discussed.