'Domestic Situation' Spurred Base Shooting that Left Sailor Injured, Gunman Dead

In preparation of the arrival of Hurricane Florence, an F/A-18E Super Hornet evacuates Naval Air Station Oceana to ensure personnel safety and prevent damage to Navy assets as a proactive measure (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed)
In preparation of the arrival of Hurricane Florence, an F/A-18E Super Hornet evacuates Naval Air Station Oceana to ensure personnel safety and prevent damage to Navy assets as a proactive measure (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed)

A gunman is dead and a woman is in the hospital after a shooting on Naval Air Station Oceana early Friday, officials said.

The shooter was shot by Oceana security personnel, said Navy spokesman Jeff Hood.

The victim, a woman, was shot multiple times but her injuries are not life threatening, Hood said. She was taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. Additional details about her injuries were not immediately available. 

The shooting happened at 6:45 a.m. in the parking lot of Strike Fighter Squadron 37, outside Hangar 145, Oceana commanding officer Capt. Chad Vincelette said. It was resolved in five minutes. The base was locked down for a short time Friday, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating. 

The victim and the gunman were both enlisted sailors assigned to VFA-37. The shooting stemmed from a domestic situation, according to Beth Baker, spokeswoman for Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. The exact nature of their relationship is unknown, but they were not married, according to Baker. Counselors have been brought in.

Navy officials declined to identify the sailors until their next-of-kin have been notified. 

"We do random and period inspections for prohibited items," Vincelette said. "How the sailor was able to get a weapon on base is part of the investigation."

Virginia Beach Fire Department crews responded for support about 7 a.m., bringing a battalion car and engine with emergency medical technicians, spokesman Art Kohn said. Virginia Beach EMS also sent several ambulances and paramedics, a spokesman said.

David Hillery was near the base, taking his son to Ocean Lakes High School, when the shooting happened. He said that within a minute he saw EMS vehicles and about 20 police cars drive past.

An incredible response, Hillery said. "It was like out of a movie scene."

This is the second time in a little more than two years that a sailor has been shot and killed at Oceana. In February 2017, Navy Seaman Robert "Colton" Wright was shot and killed by a master at arms in the hangar where he worked after he rammed his pickup through a closed unmanned back gate.

An investigation by The Virginian-Pilot revealed possible lapses in security that allowed the gate breach to go unnoticed for nearly 10 minutes. 

Staff writer Mike Connors contributed to this story.

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