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Entries in Marine (15)

Tuesday
May282013

Marine Killed by Police Linked to Two Deaths

KLST/ABC News(EDEN, Texas) -- Police on Sunday identified a U.S. Marine accused of a drive-by shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others injured in Texas, and said they believe he is also be responsible for the death of another woman in North Carolina the day before.

Esteban J. Smith, 23, was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday morning after randomly firing on five vehicles from his pickup truck as he drove around Concho County, Texas, according to Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Smith is an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His rank and service record have not been made public.

He allegedly began the spree around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, opening fire on a vehicle in Eden, Concho County, where a woman was wounded.

He then allegedly fired at a car at a convenience store, injuring two people.

The next shooting occurred at approximately 5:30 a.m. back in Eden, where another woman was injured.

None of the four were seriously hurt.

Just after 6 a.m., the Concho County Sheriff's Office received a call about shots fired, and when they investigated found a woman shot to death in her car in Eola.

The deceased woman has been identified as Alicia Torres, 42.

When Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane caught up with the suspect about 15 minutes later, Smith allegedly opened fire on his vehicle, wounding him.

Highway Patrol troopers and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden arrived on the scene, and Smith engaged them in a firefight. He was killed in the shootout.

Police discovered "an assault rifle, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition" at the scene, according to Vinger.

Smith has also been linked to the death of another woman, whose body was found on Sunday at the Sunset Inn motel in Jacksonville, N.C., police said.

There are more than 1,500 miles separating the two incidents.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec142012

Marine Amputee ‘Humiliated’ on Delta Flight

Delta Airlines(WASHINGTON) -- A Marine, a double amputee, on a Delta Airlines flight earlier this month was reportedly treated poorly and humiliated by airline staff.

Marine Lance Cpl. Christian Brown was on Delta flight 504 from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.  Army Col. Nickey Knighton, a fellow passenger and veteran, sent a complaint to Delta Airlines about Brown’s treatment. The complaint was obtained by the Washington Post.

The Post reports that Brown was “clumsily wheeled to the back row of the plane” and "humiliated to the point of tears.”  Although fellow passengers in first class attempted to give up their seats in exchange for Brown’s seat in the last row of economy class, airline staff would not allow it because it was time for the plane to take off.

Another passenger, retired Army Lt. Col. Keith Gafford, told the Post, "I have been flying with Delta for a gazillion years, and this crew treated Chris worse than you’d treat any thing, not even any body. I did 27 years in the military. I have seen a lot of things and have seen a lot of guys die, but I have never seen a Marine cry.  What the kid said was, ‘I have given everything that I can give and this is the way I am being treated? This is how I will be treated for the rest of my life?’”

Brown also became sick during the flight, which may have added to his frustration.

In an emailed statement to ABC News, airline spokesman Michael Thomas said, “This story in no way reflects how Delta treats customers or the high regard we hold for our nation’s service members. We are actively investigating and have reached out to this customer and his family. We’re sorry for the difficulties that transpired.”

According to the Post, Brown was leading his squad on a foot patrol in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Dec. 13, 2011, when he stepped on an explosive device that blew off both his legs, one above the knee, the other below his hip. He also lost part of his right index finger.

Today, Brown lives in an apartment on the campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He undergoes daily physical therapy to adjust to his prosthetic legs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Former Marine Detained After Alleged Facebook Threats

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHESTERFIELD, Va.) -- A 26-year-old former Marine has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after being detained for alleged threats he made on Facebook. Brandon Raub, who lives in Chesterfield, Va., was detained last Thursday after being questioned by law enforcement about his postings.

“Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to sever heads.” Raub posted to Facebook on Aug. 13, 2012.  The post appears to be a lyric from the band Swollen Members and its song “Bring Me Down.”

The case has pitted First Amendment freedoms against potential security concerns. Raub, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was questioned by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and Chesterfield County Police last Thursday and was then taken into custody by the Chesterfield County Police Department. At a court hearing on Monday Raub was ordered to be detained for mental evaluation for 30 days. Court records on Raub only showed traffic violations.  A Facebook group supporting Raub already has over 5,800 supporters.

“For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon. This should be a wake-up call to Americans that the police state is here,” said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, which is serving as counsel for Raub.

“I feel like he’s being unconstitutionally detained,” said Raub’s mother, Cathleen Thomas, in an interview with ABC News. Thomas said her son was a good student and an Eagle Scout who never had any mental health problems. Thomas said that after his six years in the Marines, she never noticed any signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He’s a good kid, he’s a great kid,” Thomas said.

Lawyers representing Raub said they expect to file an appeal of the 30-day detention order and are trying to prevent Raub from being moved more than three hours away to a medical facility in Salem, Va.

“After speaking to Raub, officers believed him to be in need of further evaluation. Chesterfield officers at the scene contacted Chesterfield Mental Health Crisis Intervention. Crisis workers recommended that police take Raub into custody and bring him in for evaluation,” Col. Thierry Dupuis, chief of the Chesterfield Police Department, said in a statement.

Virginia law allows police to detain people for mental evaluation under emergency circumstances.

“Raub was placed in handcuffs after he resisted officers’ attempts to take him into custody. Raub was evaluated by a Chesterfield mental health official, who determined that he should be held under a temporary detention order and transported to John Randolph Medical Center for additional evaluation.” Col. Dupuis said.

Raub’s postings on Facebook seem to focus on several conspiracy theories related to the 9/11 attacks and what he says is a coming revolution.

“If you are my friend, you deserve to know the truth. This world is secretly run by a shadow organization of people who among other things enjoy raping children. Some of [sic] leaders were involved with the bombing of the twin towers. It was a sacrifice and a complete inside job. Also the Bush’s [sic] are very sick twisted problems. I believe they have a secret Castle in Colorado where they have been raping and sacrificing children for many years. Think I’m crazy? Think again,” Raub wrote in a July 28, 2012 Facebook post.

“Dear Friends, I know many of you think I’m going crazy, and are wondering just why I have been posting the things I have been posting. I don’t have the energy to explain. Just know that a new beginning is coming,” Raub posted on August 11.

On Aug. 7, 2012 Raub posted to his profile a picture of men in robes by a lake with the caption, "Do you know that world leaders sacrifice children in robes?”

According to federal law enforcement officials the FBI received several complaints from concerned individuals about Raub’s postings. Certain other Facebook postings that were discussed at a court hearing on Monday for Raub focused on messages allegedly from a closed Facebook group that was not part of Raub’s public Facebook profile.

ABC News was not able to obtain access to those postings.

Following several high-profile mass shootings the FBI says it needed to interview Raub.

“It would be horrible for us not to respond to reports and complaints about threats from the public,” Dee Rybiski, spokeswoman for the FBI Richmond field office, said when contacted by ABC News.

Rybiski said that the FBI did not detain Raub despite the assertion from his lawyer that he was arrested by the FBI.

“When we left we had not arrested him, we did not touch him, we did not detain him. There are no charges pending,” Rybiski said.

The Richmond Times Dispatch quoted an Internet posting by a former platoon commander, Sean Lawlor, who served with Raub in Iraq. The paper said that Lawlor called Raub an “excellent Marine” but quoted Lawlor as also saying, “Knowing the man that he is, I believe that he fully intended to act on the threats he was posting … We may never know, but the fact that law enforcement intervened may have kept Brandon from doing something extremely destructive.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

Sole Plane Crash Survivor Saved by Marine Friend

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(KANSAS CITY, Kan.) -- The sole survivor of a small plane crash in Kansas is in stable but serious condition after she was reportedly pulled out of the burning aircraft by a passenger -- an Iraq war veteran who later died from his injuries.

Hannah Luce, 22, is in a Kansas City hospital with burns covering 28 percent of her body after surviving the Friday crash that killed three of her friends and the young pilot.

"While we're thankful for this miracle of Hanna, we are truly grieving with all these parents," Hannah Luce's father Ron Luce said.

Hannah and her three friends were aboard an eight-seater twin-engine Cessna 401 plane, heading to a Christian youth rally called Acquire the Fire, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  The rally was held by Teen Mania Ministries, an organization founded by Hannah's father.

But after taking off from an airport in Tulsa, Okla., something suddenly went wrong with the plane, which landed in a field and skidded around 200 feet before hitting several trees and bursting into flames.

The pilot, 23-year-old Luke Sheets, died at the scene, as did 29-year-old Garrett Coble, and 22-year-old Stephen Luth.

Austin Anderson, a 27-year-old former marine who completed two tours in Iraq, had just graduated from Oral Roberts University with Hannah on May 5.  Anderson reportedly pulled Hannah out of the burning plane, and the two were able to walk to a nearby road for help.

Anderson later died in the hospital, suffering from burns over 90 percent of his body.

Ron Luce told ABC News' Kansas City affiliate KMBC that he knew Anderson and that he is the type of man that would save someone in that situation.

"He served two tours in Iraq, and he was willing to give his life for his country," he said.  "He was willing to give his life for a friend.  He was always willing to go that extra mile."

Ron Luce said his daughter, who was working on her master's degree in counseling psychology, "just began to tear up" when asked about Anderson pulling her from the wreckage.

Hannah is now in serious but stable condition at the University of Kansas Hospital, where on Monday she will undergo skin grafts for her burns.

"She said, 'I have all these burns," her father said.  "Then she said, 'but I'm here.  I'm here.'"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

Marine Returns, Son With Cerebral Palsy Walks for First Time

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A North Carolina Marine got a shocking welcome home from his son, who suffers from cerebral palsy. The young boy walked to his father on his own for the first time.

When Staff Sgt. Jeremy Cooney was deployed, his 6-year-old son could not walk. What he didn’t know was that the boy learned to walk while his father was serving in Afghanistan.

The heartwarming video was posted by Cooney’s wife Melissa Cooney on WelcomeHomeBlog.com, a website for videos of surprise military homecomings.

“When my husband left on his deployment, our 6-year-old son could not walk on his own,” Melissa Cooney wrote on the site.  “He has cerebral palsy. Doctors originally said that he would never walk or do much of anything. While daddy was away, he learned to walk. For his homecoming, we set it up for Michael to walk to his daddy for the first time ever! We kept the fact that he could walk a secret the whole time his dad was gone!”

The family could not be reached to comment. Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder that causes physical and mental disabilities.

In the video, Sgt. Cooney crouches down and watches in amazement as his son walks toward him when they see each other in a gym at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. When the boy gets within arm’s reach, Cooney scoops him up in his arms and the two share a long hug.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr262012

Attorneys Will Continue to Fight Dismissal of Marine Critical of Obama

(SAN DIEGO) -- Civilian lawyers for the Marine sergeant discharged Wednesday for posting critical comments about President Obama on Facebook say they will continue to fight his dismissal in civilian courts.

On Wednesday, Sergeant Gary Stein was given an “other than honorable” discharge from the Marine Corps for disparaging comments that included labeling President Obama an enemy.

The Marines said the comments by the nine-year veteran were detrimental to good order and discipline and violated military law.  Because of the “other than honorable” discharge, Stein will be demoted to lance corporal and be ineligible for most federal veterans benefits.

The conservative U.S. Justice Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union say they will continue to fight Stein’s dismissal in federal courts.

They believe the Marine Corps overreached its authority and violated Stein’s First Amendment rights to free speech.  Earlier this month, a federal judge denied their request for a temporary restraining order to block Stein’s dismissal.

Gary Kreep of the U.S. Justice Foundation told ABC News that, once Stein has transitioned out of the Marine Corps in a few weeks, “we’ll be amending the complaint to reflect a request for relief for his reinstatement to the Marine Corps. ”

A spokesperson for the ACLU confirmed that the organization would continue to try and block Stein’s discharge through the federal courts.

Kreep said his organization is committed to taking Stein’s case all the way to the Supreme Court if that’s what he wants.

Stein expressed his disappointment about his discharge on his Facebook page. "I have spent the last 9 years honorably serving this great nation and the Corps,” said Stein. “Even though I will be discharged no one can take the title of Marine away from me. I thank my family and friends for their support and love. Today is just the start of the rest of my life. Semper Fi.”

Kreep said Stein’s case has united groups from across the political spectrum because “free speech and due process rights are important.”  He added, "It shows people who disagree on a variety of issues can come together, and that’s what we’re doing."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr252012

Marine to Be Discharged over Anti-Obama Facebook Comment

Creatas/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A conservative Marine who started an armed forces Tea Party Web page has been given an "other than honorable" discharge for misconduct after declaring on Facebook, "Screw Obama. I will not follow all orders from him."

Sgt. Gary Stein later clarified his remarks to say he wouldn't follow unlawful orders from the president and argued his online comments were protected by the First Amendment, ABC News San Diego affiliate KGTV reported.

In addition, he has expressed regret for his remark, at one point writing on Facebook, "The words that I used were tasteless and I could have articulated my point more clearly. I am man enough to admit my mistakes."

But Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, the commanding general for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, nevertheless upheld an earlier decision by an administrative separation board to give Stein the "other than honorable" discharge, according to a news release by the Marines.

Stein, 26, based at Camp Pendleton, was put on notice of a possible violation of the Uniform Code of Justice last month after his Obama comment, KGTV reported. The military subsequently cited other anti-Obama comments in Stein's online postings.

On Wednesday, Stein acknowledged the discharge on his Facebook page.

"I have spent the last 9 years honorably serving this great nation and the Corps," Stein wrote. "Even though I will be discharged no one can take the title of Marine away from me. I thank my family and friends for their support and love. Today is just the start of the rest of my life. Semper Fi."

The manner of discharge will hit Stein in the wallet, according to the Marine statement.

"A Marine being separated as a result of adverse conduct can receive an other than honorable characterization of discharge if the basis for separation is the commission of a serious offense which is a significant departure from the conduct expected of a Marine," the statement read. "Marines administratively separated with an 'other than honorable' discharge are automatically reduced to pay grade E-3, to become effective upon separation."

The move is expected to mean Stein will not receive benefits following his nine years of military service. His contract with the Marines was scheduled to expire on July 28.

Stein tried to stop the tribunal's processes by filing a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court in the Southern California District, but federal judge Marilyn Huff denied the request.

She told one of Stein's attorneys, "You understand it's a pretty sensitive comment that he made," adding, "He can't do that," KGTV reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Brittany Killgore Murder: Second Suspect Arrested

ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- A Marine already charged with illegal possession of an assault rifle was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder in the killing of Marine wife Brittany Killgore.

Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, 45, was arrested on the new charge at Vista Detention, where he is being held.

Killgore, 22, of Fallbrook, Calif., disappeared April 13, after telling friends she was going out in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Her body was found four days later, dumped near Lake Skinner in Riverside County, Calif.

Jessica Lopez, 25, was already charged with first-degree murder in Killgore's death. She entered a not-guilty plea in court April 19, and was ordered held on $3 million bail, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

Lopez was arrested at a Ramada Inn in San Diego on April 17. She is now in jail.

Key to the case was an apparent suicide note found in Lopez's hotel room that detailed the 22-year-old Killgore's fate and the location of her body, according to ABC News affiliate KGTV in San Diego.

According to legal records, Lopez once lived with Perez, who had been considered a person of interest in the case since the investigation into Killgore's disappearance began. Police had said they believed he may have been the last person to see Killgore alive.

Perez was arraigned April 18 on an unrelated charge of possession of an AR-15 assault rifle and was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Authorities have not commented on the connection between Killgore, Lopez and Perez.

The slain woman's grandmother, Cheryl Coble, told the Park Hills Daily Journal in Missouri that Killgore, Perez and his girlfriend were supposed to go on a dinner cruise the night of April 13, but the girlfriend backed out. Coble said she was unsure if her granddaughter made it to the cruise.

Killgore told friends she was going to spend the evening in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. However, authorities said they believed she never made it. Her cellphone was recovered in the area by San Diego trolley security, triggering an investigation.

Killgore filed for a divorce from her husband, Cory Killgore, also 22, just days before she disappeared. Cory Killgore returned from Afghanistan last week following the news of his wife's disappearance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Marine Allegedly Stabs Another Marine to Death

Giorgio Fochesato/Vetta/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One Marine allegedly stabbed another Marine to death early Saturday morning in Washington, D.C., according to police.

Michael Poth, 20, allegedly fatally stabbed Philip Bushong once with a pocket knife after the two got into an argument during which Poth used a homophobic slur against Bushong.

Bushong, 23, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The stabbing occurred around 2:40 a.m. Saturday in front of a sporting goods store across from the Marine Barracks in southeast Washington.

“At this time, it does not appear they knew each other,” Metro Police Department homicide detective Lt. Robert Alder told ABC News affiliate WJLA.

A witness told police the two men were arguing, but the scene turned violent after the anti-gay slur.

“We do not have any information there was physical contact before this”, Alder told WJLA.  “It was just an exchange of words, which escalated and wound up with a stabbing occurring.”

Marine guards who saw the incident chased Poth as he tried to flee the scene.

Poth, who is originally from Pittsburgh, but was based at the Marine barracks, was charged Saturday with second-degree murder while armed.  His first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr162012

Marine Questioned In Case of Missing San Diego Woman

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) -- An active-duty marine arrested on an unrelated charge is being questioned in connection with a 22-year-old Fallbrook, Calif., woman who has been missing since Friday.

Brittany Dawn Killgore was last seen by a friend on Friday in Fallbrook around 5 p.m. Police believe the marine, 45-year-old Louis Ray Perez, was the last person seen with Brittany.

Perez, who is based at Camp Pendleton, was booked at the San Diego Central Jail on an unrelated charge of possession of a stolen AR-15 assault rifle. According to the San Diego Central Jail website, Perez was arrested Sunday and is being held on $500,000 bail.

Killgore was reported missing Saturday evening.

“Due to suspicious circumstances, detectives from the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Station and the Homicide Detail were requested and responded,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

Police believe there is a “strong likelihood” she is a victim of foul play.

“We recovered her cellphone in the gas lamp district of San Diego,” said Lt. Larry Nesbit of the San Diego County Sheriff’s department.

Police are not revealing the connection between Killgore and Perez. She was last seen wearing a dark purple evening gown with purple floral glitter patterns. She is a white female, 5'7″, 130 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, according to the sheriff’s department.

The sheriff’s department is deploying Sheriff’s Search and Rescue units to assist in locating the woman. Anyone with information can call Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321/after hours at (858) 565-5200 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-TIPS (8477).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio