The suspect in an early Friday morning stabbing at a US Naval base in Portsmouth, Virginia, has been taken into custody. Meanwhile, a motive behind the stabbing has yet to be determined, and the victim remains in critical condition.
According to The Associated Press, the Navy reported that Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell (pictured above) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Powell got into an argument outside the Navy Exchange at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, Portsmouth Annex, in Virginia, at around 8: 30 am. That’s when Harwell began stabbing Powell in the neck and chest before leading authorities on a nine-hour long manhunt in the area.
Navy officials at the Virginia base say the two knew each other, but they were not sure what led to the confrontation that resulted in Harwell stabbing Powell. Family members of the victim mentioned the two were not close.
Following the stabbing, the Virginia base was placed on lockdown, but Harwell was able to find his way out. Captain Jake Johansson noted he was “interested” in knowing how and the time at which the suspect escaped, according to WAVY.com.
“We’ll adjust our procedures accordingly, if we find that we’re falling short,” he said.
Since both the stabbing victim and suspect are active duty members, Johansson said the gate was closed “immediately” and the Virginia-based hospital was issued a “Code White, securing everybody in place.” A Code White stands for either an active shooter or armed suspect is in the area.
Powell remains in critical condition after surgery, and Johansson said his wife was with him at that time. He added that Powell’s parents were driving from Pennsylvania to Virginia to be with him.
Rodney Elston, Powell’s father-in-law, said the sailor was stabbed eight times – one of those being in the throat. The doctors at the Virginia hospital have placed Powell in a coma and won’t know until Saturday if the stabbing damaged his voice box.
Police in Portsmouth, Virginia, arrested Harwell around 5 pm, after they were able to locate him through a phone connected to the stabbing. One witness, Shana White, said Harwell didn’t put up a fight when he was arrested.
“They came out with him, but he wasn’t like fighting or anything,” White said.
The search for the stabbing victim came a day after the Virginia-based Naval Medical Center held an active-shooter drill as part of routine training. Johansson said “pretty much everybody that was at that exercise yesterday, by face, showed up today.”
“It was nice to have that collaboration,” he added.
[Image via New York Daily News]