The USS Mahan shooting victim has been identified as 24-year-old Mark Mayo, a military police officer who died trying to assist a Navy Petty Officer who was struggling with a civilian. The civilian took the Petty Officer's gun during the struggle and shot and killed Mayo as he ran over to help.
Mayo grew up in Hagerstown, Maryland, and was a standout high school wrestler at Williamsport High School. His mother, Sharon Blair, told a local newspaper that she moved her family out of a dangerous area in Washington D.C. in 1998 because, "I wanted to do right by them."
"Just put down that he died a hero," said the tearful mom to local reporters.
Shooter Had A Valid Civilian ID Card, May Have Worked On BaseThe civilian who killed Mayo before being shot to death himself was carrying an apparently valid Transportation Workers Identification Credential, which allowed him access to Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world.
A TWIC card lets its bearer into secure areas on ships such as the USS Mahan, and in ports that are off-limits to those who have not passed the background security check necessary to obtain the ID card. That security check is administered by the Transportation Security Administration, the same agency responsible for checking passengers as they pass through airport security gates.
The TSA must determine whether an individual applying for the card, which is required to get a civilian job with the Navy's Military Sealift Command, poses a security threat. The Sealift Command operates a hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, that docks at the same pier as the USS Mahan.
The Military Sealift Command hires civilian crew on its ships, but whether the USS Mahan shooter was one of those employees, or had applied for such a job at some point, is not yet known. The identity of the civilian shooter has not been made public.
Shooter Did Not Bring His Own Weapon On To BaseAfter gaining access to the base, the civilian was walking in the direction of the USS Mahan quarterdeck, the ceremonial entrance to the ship, at about 11:20 pm Monday night when the Petty Officer on watch tried to stop and question him.
Why the civilian wanted to get on board the Mahan, a guided missile destroyer, remains unclear. It is also not yet known whether he had been on board the USS Mahan before.
For some reason, the civilian resisted the Petty Officer and a struggle broke out between the two. In that struggle, the civilian grabbed the Petty Officer's weapon and disarmed him.
Mayo ran over to help the Petty Officer. But the civilian shot him. Naval authorities say that the civilian did not bring a weapon of his on to the base, so whether he planned to harm anyone on board the USS Mahan is also unclear as of Wednesday morning.
Images: U.S. Navy