Democratic presidential candidate and former Navy Secretary Jim Webb is rushing to the defense of a Navy lieutenant commander who used a personal weapon to fire at Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, the man who opened fire at two Chattanooga, Tennessee military facilities last month
During the attack - which left four Marines and one Navy sailor dead - Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White fired back at Abdulazeez with his own firearm. Military personnel are banned from carrying weapons inside military recruiting and reserve stations. But Webb said on Twitter Saturday that White deserves to be praised rather than punished.
Navy charging LCDR Tim White w/ a crime for trying to defend our sailors & Marines in #Chattanooga? He deserves a medal, not an indictment.— Jim Webb (@JimWebbUSA) August 2, 2015
Webb clarified Sunday that he had spoken to the Navy about potential charges.
Before tweeting last night, we confirmed with a defense official that the Navy was seriously considering charging LCDR Timothy White.— Jim Webb (@JimWebbUSA) August 2, 2015
The charge being considered is illegally discharging a firearm on federal property. No on the record comment was offered.— Jim Webb (@JimWebbUSA) August 2, 2015
Former Rep. Allen West, a veteran, wrote on his personal blog that he inquired about the charges in a text message and, "I can confirm that the United States Navy is bringing charges against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for illegally discharging a firearm on federal property." He did not say who his source was.
The Navy says it's not true. "No one is being charged right now. We are still reviewing the facts of this incident," a public affairs officer said.
The Navy also responded to comments on its Facebook page, writing, "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."
More than 23,000 people have signed a White House petition asking the president to give medals of bravery to White and other service members who were affected by the shooting. The White House promises to respond to those petitions with 100,000 signatures within 30 days.