Military: Claims of Stamford soldier killed may be hoax

(11/30/07) STAMFORD (AP) - Reports that a Stamford soldier died this week in Iraq may be a hoax, military officials said Friday. Lt. Col. John Whitford of the Connecticut National Guard said that neither the state of Connecticut nor the U.S. Army can verify that Gabrielle Costello, 26, a volunteer Stamford firefighter, serves in the U.S. Army or was killed in Iraq. "I've been in constant communication with the Army Human Resources Command," Whitford said. "We both can verify that this person is not in the Army's database." The Army Human Resources Command is "looking into this as a possible hoax," he said. Costello is not employed as a contractor in Iraq, U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, R-4th District, said. Lt. Troy Jones of the Stamford Fire Department told The Advocate of Stamford on Thursday that Costello was killed Sunday while serving with the Army in Iraq. Jones said the department was notified by Costello's mother. City and fire department officials declined to comment on Costello Friday to The Associated Press, referring questions to the Army. An Army human resources officer told the Advocate on Friday the military is trying to reach Costello's mother but did not have name or phone number. Whitford said the Army Human Resources Command is notified about soldiers' deaths, along with a regional casualty assistance center. The closest center to Stamford is Fort Drum in New York, which has no record of Costello, Whitford said. The closest military installation to the soldier's home notifies the family of a death, Whitford said. The Connecticut National Guard would be assigned to contact Costello's family if the Army was notified of his death.


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