When Security Is Compromised
San Diego’s military installations were not on heightened alert Thursday after a mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas.
Twelve were killed and at least 31 injured on Fort Hood and the base was put on lockdown immediately when shots were fired near the base’s theater at 11:30 a.m. PT. MSNBC reported one suspect was killed and two suspects were in custody as of 1:30 p.m.
At Naval Air Station Coronado a spokesperson confirmed there were no extra security measures in place on that base almost an hour after the shooting had occurred in Texas. A Camp Pendleton spokesperson refused to divulge any information on current security measures there. No word from MCAS Miramar and 32nd Street on security levels Thursday afternoon.
There has been more than one instance where security on a military installation in San Diego County was compromised – several involved the deaths of military personnel.
Arguably the most infamous situation was that of a stolen tank from the National Guard Armory in Kearny Mesa.
In April 1995, U.S. Army veteran Shawn Nelson stole the tank and went on a rampage, crushing cars and any object that got in his path. Eventually, the tank got stuck on Highway 163 and officers moved in. One officer shot the suspect, who later died. NBC interviewed the officer later that year; he said he was concerned that people would be killed if the tank rolled into oncoming traffic.
Nelson, 35, was born and raised in Clairemont. He graduated from Madison High School in 1978 and served with a tank battalion in Germany. He was a plumber trade, but his brother said he had his truck and tools stolen. He also said Nelson had a drug and alcohol problem and had a hard time dealing with the death of his parents, but said he was not a violent or revengeful person
Other incidents include:
- June 30, 2009: Seaman August Provost was found dead in a guard shack on Camp Pendleton. While he was standing watch, Provost, 29, was shot five times and then burned in a fire that was set to destroy evidence, according to military investigators. The Navy petty officer Jonathan Campos was charged with the murder and killed himself in the brig five weeks after Provost’s death. Campos and Provost were both assigned to Assault Craft Unit 5.
- February 1999: Marine Lance Corporal Jennifer Strobel and her 33-year-old male companion, Cesar Ramirez of San Marcos, were found shot to death inside barracks at Camp Pendleton. Investigators said Ramirez shot the woman, and then shot himself. Strobel's family said their daughter had ended an affair with Ramirez.
- March 1996: U.S. Marine Sgt. Jessie Quintanilla , 29, opened fire on two of his superior officers killing one and wounding the other. Quintanilla went to the office of Lt. Col. Daniel Kidd on the second floor of a supply building and started shooting. Forty-year old Kidd died of his injuries. Lt. Col. Thomas Heffner, 43, tried to help and was wounded in the chest. Even though Quintanilla contended that he was drunk and that he fired because he felt humiliated by his superiors, he was convicted of pre-meditated murder in November 1996.
- December 1993: U.S. Navy Ensign Georg Smith, just assigned to San Diego, was supposed to report to the submarine base in Point Loma as an officer on the attack sub USS Salt Lake City. The day before, Smith went to the bachelor housing on the Naval Amphibious Base and shot 21-year old Ensign Kerryn O’Neill, 24-year old Lt. Jr. Grade Alton Grizzard and then shot himself. Smith and O’Neill had been engaged after meeting at the Naval Academy.