U.S. Navy: "Stories of Navy personnel being charged are not true"
By WRCB Staff
U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Timothy White
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Rumors swirled online over the weekend that U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Timothy White would be charged for discharging a personal weapon at the U.S. Navy Operation center during the July 16 shooting with Muhammad Abdulazeez.
That shooting claimed the lives of four U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor.
The Navy Times reports that two personal, non-issued weapons where found at the scene during the investigation, and one had been fired during the incident.
Conservative Republican blogger Allen West, who attended the University of Tennessee Knoxville and retired as a Lt. Col after serving in the U.S. Army, made a post on his blog citing a text message he received saying “United States Navy is bringing charges against Lt. Cmdr Timothy White for illegally discharging a firearm on federal property.”
Word of West’s post spread quickly online, sparking outrage.
Current regulations from the Pentagon prohibit military personnel from being armed while on U.S. soil at bases or recruiting centers. The carrying of personal weapons is also banned.
Service members working as law enforcement on military sites can carry weapons issued by the Department of Defense.
But last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter directed all military branches to review current security policies, including the addition of armed personnel, following the July 16 shooting in Chattanooga.
In response to the online posts and rumors, the U.S. Navy responded on Facebook Saturday with a post that said:
“…stories of Navy personnel being charged with an offense are not true. 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.”
Navy Cmdr Charlie Summers says Lt. Cmdr Tim White is not the focus of the Navy's current investigation.
"There is no investigation that I know of at this point as far as Lt. Cmdr White is concerned," said Cmdr Summers, "There are investigations into the incident you know, from several federal agencies and the Navy does it's own investigation as well."
While the debate over whether those at the Reserve Center should or shouldn't be armed continues online, service members are focusing is on the bravery shown that day by Navy Lt. Cmdr White and others.
"Myself, and a couple of NCO's, Lance Corporal Wells specifically, we were sitting back there just doing supply work and we had one of the Sailors come in from up front and told us there's an active shooter in the building," said Marine PFC Aaron Noyes.
PFC Noyes said the Marines and Navy Sailors quickly ran for safety, jumping a fence next to the Riverwalk. PFC Noyes saw families at the playground and grabbed children to carry them to safety.
"I specifically know, when I saw those little kids i just looked back and saw my little brother and I got to grab them," Noyes said.