A US Naval officer could face charges for firing his personal weapon at a gunman who killed four Marines and a sailor last month.
The Navy is investigating the possibility of charging Lt. Commander Timothy White for violating a Pentagon policy that prohibits carrying an unauthorized weapon on a military installation, a political commentator and former U.S. representative says.
“Ladies and gents, resulting from the text message I received yesterday, I can confirm that the United States Navy is bringing charges against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for illegally discharging a firearm on federal property,” former Republican Congressman and retired Army Colonel Allen West reported on his website Aug. 2.
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The next day the Navy denied that it was planning to charge White, but an unidentified Navy official told Fox News that charges had not been completely ruled out. The Navy was prompted to make a statement because of West and this Tweet from author and former US Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat:
“Navy charging LCDR Tim White w/ a crime for trying to defend our sailors & Marines in #Chattanooga? He deserves a medal, not an indictment.”
The Navy responded by denying the accusation.
“Stories of Navy personnel being charged with an offense are not true,” a Navy press release stated. “There is still a long way to go in reviewing the facts of this tragic incident, but at this time we can confirm no service member has been charged with an offense.”
White is being investigated for violating a Pentagon policy that allows only military police to carry weapons at most military facilities, The Navy Times reported.
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White reportedly returned fire with his own gun when Muhammad Abdulazeez crashed a rental car into the Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga and started shooting at service members on July 16, a report prepared for Navy brass states. White was apparently serving as the center’s commanding officer at the time of the attack.
The attack led to a gun battle in which Abdulazeez himself, four Marines and a sailor were killed. Investigators have not yet determined who shot Abdulazeez.
In addition to White, Chattanooga police officers who were chasing the shooter also opened fire. Cops were after Abdulazeez because he had just shot up a recruiting office in a strip mall across town.
The Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) is investigating to see if military regulations were violated, The Navy Times reported, even if the chances of him being prosecuted are small.
“Even if remote, is there a chance [White] contributed to the chaos and got people killed?” a defense official asked. “Hurt police efforts? We are exploring that.”
The Chattanooga attack has led a number of people to question the military’s ban on the carrying of personal weapons on military property, including National Review writer David French. French called the ban absurd but admitted that he thinks there will be pressure to charge White.
“I’ve heard of soldiers defying the Pentagon’s absurd weapons ban, and I suspect that there will be immense internal pressure to prosecute – especially if his return fire was deemed ineffective,” French wrote.
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