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Navy: Base shooting suspect didn't have own weapon

2 Dead in Shooting at Virginia Naval Station

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A civilian approaching a Navy destroyer at the world's largest naval base late at night took a weapon from a sailor who was standing watch and used it to shoot and kill another sailor who was trying to help his embattled colleague, Navy officials said Tuesday.

Navy security forces then killed the suspect, who was authorized to be on Naval Station Norfolk and did not bring his own weapon on base, according to Capt. Robert Clark, the base's commanding officer.

The identities of the civilian and the sailor who were killed have not been released.

"Information about our sailor will come at the appropriate time and today is not that day," said Clark, who asked for privacy for the sailor's family.

No other injuries were reported from the encounter, which occurred Monday about 11:20 p.m. on the USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer. It wasn't immediately clear why the civilian approached the ship or if he ever had access to it previously.

Clark said the identification found with the civilian indicates it is unlikely he was a military dependent authorized to be on base for that reason. He said the civilian was found with a TWIC card.

A TWIC is a transportation worker's credential and is issued by the Transportation Security Administration to personnel who require unescorted access to secure areas, such as truck drivers. The cards are valid for five years, according to the TSA. All merchant mariners are also required to have a TWIC card, including employees of the Navy's Military Sealift Command.

Military Sealift Command hires civilian mariners to crew its ships, including the hospital ship USNS Comfort, which uses the same pier as the Mahan. Clark said it was unclear what exactly the civilian's job was or when he worked on the base.

The base was briefly on lockdown following the shooting, but traffic was back to normal early Tuesday morning.

The Navy will release both men's names after their families are notified, said Naval Station Norfolk spokeswoman Terri Davis.

Aside from the pier where the Mahan was docked, operations had returned to normal at the base, with counselors available, the Navy said in a statement.

But most enlisted sailors on the Mahan - docked at the first of 13 main piers - were not to report to duty Tuesday.

Some sailors gathered for a training session - unrelated to the shooting - and began with a moment of silence for their colleague. "We'll find out what happened, and we'll prevent that from occurring again," Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, based in Norfolk, told them.

The shooting on the Mahan comes about a month after the Navy held anti-terrorism and force protection exercises on bases around the U.S., including an active-shooter drill at the Norfolk station.

To get on the base, civilians must be escorted or have identification that allows them to be there. Authorized civilians can include Department of Defense employees, contractors and military family members.

Each base entrance is guarded, and motorists present IDs. Inspections are rare. All 13 piers have additional security forces. As part of ongoing security efforts, handheld ID scanners were implemented this year at Navy bases in the region, including the Norfolk station.

The shooting comes months after a September incident at the Washington Navy Yard, in which a gunman - identified as a contractor and former Navy reservist - killed 12 civilian workers before being shot to death.

The Norfolk base covers more than 6,000 acres and is the home port for 64 ships, according to information the Navy provided in February. About 46,000 military members and 21,000 civilian government employees and contractors are assigned to the base and its ships, according to the Navy figures.

The Mahan, commissioned in 1998, has a crew of nearly 300. In September, it returned to Norfolk after a deployment of more than eight months that included being positioned in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for a potential strike against Syria.

Clark became Naval Station Norfolk's commanding officer in February, after previously serving as the installation's executive officer since 2012.


Associated Press writer Bernard McGhee in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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rlmcanoe March 25 2014 at 4:42 PM

Condolences from Massachusetts to family and friends of this sailor gone before his time.

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1 reply
bruins5681 rlmcanoe March 25 2014 at 5:40 PM


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spike March 25 2014 at 8:45 PM

He should have never gotten close enough to the guard to grab his weapon.

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2 replies
wbearl spike March 25 2014 at 9:05 PM

Most altercations on a Quarter Deck can, and are handled physically not with a gun. I didn't know the Petty Officer, Officer of the Deck or Messenger, so I can't judge their experience or qualifications. Over the years I handled a lot of drunks, even drunks who thought they were tough. How you do it depends on your messenger and Officer of the Deck.

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B I L L spike March 25 2014 at 11:42 PM

When I was at Parris Island about a million years ago, we stood our first watch at the Rifle Range. I think they wanted to make sure we got a full dose of the misquitos and sand fleas.
Anyway, our D.I. and the Sgt of the Guard with the O.D. would approach a sentry and try to take his weapon as though for inspection...If you gave up your weapon.................... Well, let's just say, you never did it again.

Not all Boot Marines received such intensive training; when some recruits came to Camp Geiger for 30 days of guard before training...taking a weapon from some was as easy as simply ordering them to do so.

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1 reply
gaustin712 B I L L March 26 2014 at 6:11 AM

I was stationed at camp Geiger on highway 17 next to New River MCAS. There were no boot Marines there. The 8th Marines were there. I was was in HQ Company serving on the regimental staff when I retired from the Navy in 1981. I understand the 8th Marines are now back on main side with the 2nd, 6th, and 10th Marines. When I joined the 2dMARDIV I was on main-side in HQ Company, 6th Marines. The boot Marines from MCRD now train at Camp Johnson. The Sailors going to FMF school also train at Camp Johnson. I'm an FMF Sailor that trained at the 22 Area of Camp Pendleton. (Opps, gave away my age) The Marines out of MCRD trained at camp Matthews. (Now UCSD) Now the ITR is at Camp Horno at Camp Pendleton.

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laclone March 26 2014 at 10:11 AM

Inside information on what happened. Cannot divulge sources.

The civilian never got onboard the ship.

To all of you Military Vets out there, let's just say that the system worked.

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Marsha March 26 2014 at 10:09 AM

24 hours late! I am a Navy Mom and was scrambling for news most of yesterday. You had more reports of the missing airline and more stories about Paul Walker from months ago, but nothing about Navy sailors in danger. Get your priorities straight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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eebarnett706 March 25 2014 at 6:28 PM

My sympathy to his family. We need better security.

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alamow2 March 26 2014 at 9:24 AM

I just have one question . How does an unarmed civilian get a weapon away from a military armed guard? Think about that .

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2 replies
cobra4 alamow2 March 26 2014 at 9:45 AM

Because the armed guard wasn't guarding his post in the proper manner.

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1 reply
rostra cobra4 March 26 2014 at 10:24 AM

Proper manner, is sidearm holstered, checking ID's, thus easy to overcome by someone with legal base access.

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Marsha alamow2 March 26 2014 at 10:10 AM

He was known to have permission to be on base. He just didn't have permission to be aboard ship.

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sutraquio March 26 2014 at 7:13 AM

Looking at some of these comments,and the "need to vent" that some people have here,it's just descriptive of similar personalities of the person who initiated the shooting on the ship.No great surprise,exemplary of those who lose control. Sad.

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joehennes March 25 2014 at 8:37 PM

Amazing how many people can read an incomplete article that was written well before the investigation has been completed and yet know exactly, what happened, whose fault it was, and who should be punished...

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1 reply
wbearl joehennes March 25 2014 at 9:12 PM

Ever notice the most opinionated are he ones with the least experience and knowledge?

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1 reply
abcstarfox wbearl March 26 2014 at 12:13 AM

WBEAR....Absolutely correct.

Old adage....

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drepke March 26 2014 at 9:09 AM

I am confused by the Major headline for this article. Were two sailors killed or was it one sailor and one civilian?

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1 reply
Marsha drepke March 26 2014 at 10:11 AM

One of each.

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1 reply
drepke Marsha March 26 2014 at 10:16 AM

The Problem is the lead in article says two sailors were killed and then the civilian but this article says one sailor and a civilian.

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Hi March 26 2014 at 8:57 AM

I read that the sailor that was killed was not part of ship company. He was the COG from base security. ..

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