A civilian gunman accused of killing a sailor aboard a destroyer at Naval Station Norfolk had at least two felony convictions, including one for voluntary manslaughter, the Navy said Thursday.
Jeffrey Tyrone Savage, 35, of Portsmouth, Va., had not served in the Navy, and his motivation for storming the USS Mahan's quarterdeck late Monday remains unclear, according to the Navy Criminal Investigation Service.
"The NCIS investigation has confirmed that Savage had no reason or authorization to be on Naval Station Norfolk," an NCIS press release said. "The chain of events that allowed Savage entry to the installation and the ship are under investigation."
Savage, who worked for Majette Trucking of Rich Square, N.C., used his valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential to drive a 2002 Freightliner cab onto the world's largest Navy base at a little after 11 p.m. ET Monday. He parked the truck, walked onto Pier 1 and boarded the USS Mahan.
The petty officer of the watch noticed him behaving erratically. When she approached him, a scuffle ensued and he was able to grab her weapon.
Savage is accused of using this weapon to fatally shoot Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo, who dived in front of the sentry after Savage took her weapon. Mayo, 24, of Hagerstown, Md., was chief of the guard for the guided-missile destroyer.
Subsequently, another security officer on the USS Mahan shot and killed Savage. Military officials said Thursday that autopsies had been performed on both bodies but that it could be weeks before results are provided to investigators.
Results will include a toxicology report indicating whether Savage was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Transportation worker credentials allow maritime workers unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels. The cards are commonly issued to truck drivers, employees of the Navy Military Sealift Command, merchant mariners and other employees who work at a commercial port.
The TWIC program was created after Sept. 11, 2001, as a way to strengthen security at commercial ports and other sensitive areas. But the program recently has been called into question because many bases, including Norfolk, don't have the electronic readers to access detailed biometric information embedded in the card.
Instead, at many bases it is used as a photo ID. But additional papers proving a need to access a military base are necessary before a cardholder is supposed to be allowed on base, according to a Defense Department directive.
Savage had to pass through at least three levels of security before gaining access to the USS Mahan, including the Gate 5 guards, the sentry on Pier 1 and the Mahan quarterdeck watch. The Navy said Wednesday that it has opened up a second investigation into improving security at the base, where about 46,000 service members and 21,000 civilian government employees and contractors serve.
"We need to look at these TWIC ID cards," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Thursday after he learned new details on Savage's base access. Military officials "said a year ago they were going to improve their security" after the Sept. 16 Washington Navy Yard shooting in which a contractor killed 12 and injured three others.
Those who have TWIC cards must provide personal and biometric information and pass a Transportation Security Administration threat assessment check. The credential is valid for five years.
Savage had been in and out of prison, court records show. And it is unclear whether his criminal record had been considered in granting him the access card.
People with criminal records for certain crimes are allowed to have a TWIC card as long as they have been out of prison for at least five years, according to TSA's website. However, applicants also can apply for a waiver.
Since the program started in 2007, about 132,000 people were disqualified and about half who appealed or asked for waivers received them.
In November 2005, Savage, then 26, was arrested in Portsmouth, Va., on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Police then discovered that he was wanted in Charlotte, N.C., in connection with the slaying of a man who had been dumped beside an interstate entrance ramp.
Savage and Maurice Griffin, 30, of Virginia had been riding in a vehicle when they began to struggle over a weapon, according to Keith Acree of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. It fired, hitting Griffin, who was then left on the side of the road.
In 2008, Savage pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Griffin's death, was sentenced to a minimum of 46 months in a prison and was released Dec. 30, 2009, after being given credit for time served, according to the public safety department.
Previously, Savage had been sentenced in 1998 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. He served nearly five years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., before transferring to a halfway house and home confinement in the Raleigh, N.C., area, according to Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Savage also spent two years in federal prison beginning in 2010 after his supervision was revoked and was transferred to a halfway house in February 2012, Burke said.
Virginia regulatory filings show Savage had registered a limited liability company in his name last year. The company also received a business license in the city of Chesapeake, Va., for lawn care and debris removal service, according the office of the city's commissioner of revenue.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles would not say whether Savage had a valid commercial driver's license, citing privacy laws. The license would have allowed Savage to drive a commercial vehicle such as the tractor-trailer cab he used to enter the Navy base.
Contributing: Nick Ochsner and Mike Gooding, WVEC-TV, Hampton-Norfolk, Va.; Meghann Myers, Navy Times; and The Associated Press