NORFOLK, Va. — Two people were killed late Monday on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan at Naval Station Norfolk, and the investigation continued today into what prompted the tragedy.
The incident began at 11:20 p.m. at Pier 1, when a civilian approached the ship’s quarterdeck and was confronted by ship security. A struggle ensued, and the civilian disarmed the petty officer of the watch. The suspect fatally shot another sailor who had rushed to help. Security forces then shot the civilian, who did not have a weapon other than the one taken from the guard.
Neither the sailor nor the civilian had been identified as of the afternoon, pending notification of family, the Navy said.
Capt. Robert Clark, the base commander, said the suspect possessed a Transportation Workers Identification Credential used by maritime or transportation workers. According to the website for Military Sealift Command, it allows an individual access to secure areas of ports and vessels that are regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
To get a TWIC, a person must provide biometric information such as fingerprints, be photographed and pass a security threat assessment by the Transportation Security Administration.
Clark said “quite a few people” responded to the incident, but he provided few other details, saying the investigation was ongoing. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is handling the matter.
Addressing reporters at a 1 p.m. press conference, Clark said the Navy would look into its security measures.
“I wouldn’t say it affects the way we necessarily screen people,” he said, “but of course it’s going to make us look at our procedures to make sure we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do, in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”
He said “our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the sailor killed last night. This is a very difficult and sad time for our Navy family. At this moment, we are in the process of notifying the sailor’s next of kin, and I would ask that you please respect their privacy at this very difficult time. Information about our sailor will come at the appropriate time and today is not the day.”
The shooting comes several months after a deadly rampage at the Washington Navy Yard where a contractor killed 12 people before being fatally shot. The gunman was a former Navy reservist.
A Defense Department investigation found gaps in security, and a report released March 18 listed ways the Pentagon would enhance physical security at its installations and improve security clearance procedures.
The Mahan returned to Norfolk in September after spending more than 8 months on deployment. Near the end of its tour, the ship diverted toward Syria after news broke of a chemical weapons attack there.