Sources: Truck driver who penetrated Navy security, killed sailor was simply waved past gate

Posted at 5:43 PM, May 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-02 07:35:05-04

Norfolk, Va. - Several federal sources are telling NewsChannel 3 the truck driver who motored past Naval Station Norfolk security and killed a sailor aboard the destroyer Mahan was waved through the checkpoint because of a misunderstanding. The driver did not show any ID to get onto the base.

That driver later disarmed a watchstander aboard the destroyer, and fatally shot MA2 Mark Mayo who'd rushed to help her. Sources say Mayo, mortally wounded, fired several rounds into the intruder Jeffrey Savage. A third sailor with an M-4 rifle also shot Savage, who died.

Mother’s reaction to new details surrounding MA2 Mark Mayo’s murder: ‘I’m appalled’

A day after the shooting, the base commander, Capt. Robert Clark, said Savage used a Transportation Worker Identification Credential -- or TWIC card -- to get onto the base. A day later, the commander said a TWIC card by itself should not have granted Savage base access. Truckers were also supposed to present a work order or other documentation. Several people, including Sen. Mark Warner, asked how someone like Savage, with a history of convictions for drug dealing and manslaughter, was able to pass the TWIC background check.

But this week, federal sources said the TWIC was not an issue in this case. They said the gate guard waved Savage through.

Sources say this is what happened:

On March 24, Savage pulled up to a Naval Station Norfolk security gate behind the wheel of a Freightliner tractor-trailer cab. He rolled the window down part way and made a hand gesture. The guard believed Savage was indicating he needed to make a U-turn and let the truck pass. The truck did not turn around. The guard then assumed the truck was heading to a nearby parking lot to turn, but the truck motored further into the base. The guard got into a car to find the truck.

The guard spotted the Freightliner cab parked near Pier 1. It was idling, but no one was inside. Moments later, gunfire blasted on the Mahan.

According to our sources, the petty officer of the watch confronted Savage as he boarded the destroyer. He demanded her pistol, and then took it from her. Mayo raced to help and used his body to protect the disarmed sailor. Savage shot Mayo. Though mortally wounded, Mayo returned fire, striking Savage. A third sailor with an M-4 rifle also shot Savage, who died.

Mayo was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Investigations by NewsChannel 3 and Sen. Warner showed truck drivers with violent felonies were easily able to get TWIC cards, a card needed for base access. Those investigations are driving changes to the program, but federal sources said the TWIC card played no role in getting Savage onto base.

Previous stories:

Sailor killed on USS Mahan gave his life to protect shipmates

MA2 Mark Mayo laid to rest at Arlington

MA2 Mark Mayo awarded Navy and Marine Corps Medal

Memorial held at Naval Station Norfolk for MA2 Mark Mayo

Naval Station Norfolk to hold memorial service for Mark Mayo on Monday

White House petition asks for Mark Mayo to receive Medal of Honor

Condolences for Navy MA Mark Mayo