The Navy quelled reports earlier this week that a sailor faced charges for returning fire against the man who shot and killed military members at two centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last month. But new reports suggest just the opposite — that Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White will not face charges.
The Navy told TheBlaze, however, that it’s stance still hasn’t changed.
Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday that an “official familiar with the investigation” said White would not face charges for firing his personal firearm at the Navy Operational Support Center, which was attacked byMuhammad Abdulazeez on July 16, before he was killed by police at the Marine Corps Reserve Center Chattanooga about seven miles away. After the attack in which four Marines and one sailor were killed, Whiteadmitted to firing shots at Abdulazeez.
The Navy Times also reported “multiple Navy sources” saying charges against White were unlikely.
The Navy’s own message though remains the same.
“The same statement stands,” Lt. Tim Hawkins, a Navy spokesman, told TheBlaze Thursday. “There has been no chance since the last time we spoke. What we’re seeing is a difference in emphasis or interpretation. There is no basis for those reports, those stories.”
The Navy’s original message issued in response to a comment on its Facebook page was that “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.”
Hawkins told TheBlaze Monday stories that said charges were being brought against White were false because the investigation was still being conducted and that’s still the case.
“Step 1: conduct the investigation. For any situation like this, there’s not even a thought process into anything beyond that,” Hawkins said Thursday. “Step 1: just complete the investigation, line up the facts … and then go from there.”
It is against the Defense Department’s policy for most military personnel to be armed while working at recruiting centers and ROTC offices. But Secretary of Defense Ash Carter directed the military branches last week to review security policies — including adding armed personnel — in the wake of the July 16 attacks.