The shutdown has been lifted and life is getting back to normal at the US Naval Base in Millington, Tennessee, as details emerge slowly in the hours after the shooting that left two National Guard officers wounded.
Police still have not released the name of the alleged gunmen they are holding, other than to say he is a Tennessee National Guard Sergeant First Class. But a local TV Station, News Channel 3 in Memphis, Tennessee reports that co-workers have identified him as Amos Patton. News Channel 3 quotes its sources as saying Patton had been “investigated before.” They describe Patton as a seasoned recruiter.
The trouble started Thursday when two superior officers informed the suspect that he was fired. There is no word yet on the cause for his dismissal. At that point, according to Millington Police Department Inspector Reginald Fields, the suspect became “irate”. After his superior officers requested that he return all equipment issued by the Tennessee National Guard, he retrieved a government-issued computer and a loaded Glock pistol. A struggle ensued.
During the fight, police say, the gun went off, wounding one of the soldiers. The fight spilled out of the armory building where the second soldier was shot. Neither of the gunshot wounds was life-threatening. Both officers are expected to recover fully.
At this point, according to police, the suspect started running. He didn’t get far. Two members of the Tennessee Guard not involved in the scuffle, saw what had happened and took off in pursuit. Police say they caught up with him about 30 yards away where they tackled and disarmed him. They held him until police arrived.
About 7,500 hundred people – military personnel, civilians and contractors – work at the Millington Naval Base, which was locked down for about 20 minutes Thursday as a precaution. The altercation, and the subsequent shootings occurred off the base on nearby Navy-owned land.
Millington, a town of about 10,000 people in Shelby County, Tennessee, is located approximately 20 miles north of Memphis. The town has a long history with the US Military dating back to the construction of Park Field, an air field in 1917 used for training by the US Army. Since 1941, Millington has billed itself as the world’s largest inland Naval Base and the Navy trained thousands of pilots there during World War Two and the Korean War. In the 1990s, some of the Naval activities were transferred to Florida and the air field was given to the town for commercial use. Still, the presence of the Navy remains important to Millington, pumping more than 300 million dollars annually into the local economy.
Further details about the shootings in Tennessee are expected to emerge slowly over the coming days, but Inspector Fields, one of the first policemen to arrive at the scene, told reporters Thursday that he credits the two soldiers who captured the suspect with saving the day.
“If they had not tackled him and apprehended him,” he said, “it could have been a whole lot worse.”
Written by Mike Clancy