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Navy officials are still trying to determine what motivated a civilian to approach a docked destroyer, struggle with security personnel, disarm a sailor, then shoot and kill a military policeman coming to help.
The civilian was shot and killed by Navy security forces shortly after the encounter late Monday night aboard the USS Mahan at Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base.
The unidentified civilian was authorized to be on base, officials said, but it wasn't immediately clear for what reason or why he would want to approach the guided-missile destroyer, which shares a pier with a hospital ship, the USNS Comfort.
The Navy said the civilian was coming toward the ship's quarterdeck when he got into a struggle with the Petty Officer of the Watch, whom he disarmed. The slain sailor, a 24-year-old military policeman named Mark Mayo, came to aid the petty officer.
Capt. Robert Clark, Norfolk station's commanding officer, said that the civilian was found with a TWIC card, a transportation worker's credential issued by Transportation Security Administration to personnel like truck drivers with unescorted access to secure areas. But he said it was unclear what exactly the civilian's job was or when he worked on the base. Base entrances are guarded, and motorists present IDs. Inspections are rare, and Clark noted that the civilian did not have a weapon.
The Naval base locked down after the shooting but resumed operations aside from the Mahan's pier Tuesday.
About 46,000 military members and 21,000 civilian government employees and contractors work on the base and its ships.