NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia truck driver who killed a sailor aboard a Naval destroyer served prison time for manslaughter and drugs, but it was still unclear what led him onto the base earlier this week.
The Navy identified the shooter Thursday as Jeffrey Tyrone Savage, 35, of Chesapeake, Va., but officials were still searching for clues about the shooting.
Savage was killed by Navy security forces Monday night aboard the USS Mahan after he took a gun from a petty officer who was on watch for the ship and used it to shoot Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Mayo, who was providing security at Naval Station Norfolk.
Navy officials have said there’s no indication the attack was planned or had any link to terrorism. Navy investigators have also said there’s no indication Savage had any previous relationship with the ship or anyone on it.
Officials have said Savage drove his tractor-trailer cab onto base, walked onto a pier and up a ramp toward the ship before being confronted by security. The Navy has said Savage shouldn’t have been allowed on the installation the night of the shooting, and investigators were looking into why he was let on the base.
The credential Savage used to gain access — a Transportation Worker Identity Credential — is issued by the Transportation Security Administration and is valid for five years. The Navy said the card alone doesn’t authorize base access. People also have other documents to gain entry, including a manifest of items to be delivered or a receipt indicating an item to be picked up, said Beth Baker, a spokeswoman for the Norfolk-based Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
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 5 years, according to the TSA’s website. However, applicants can also apply for a waiver.
Since the program started in 2007, about 132,000 people were disqualified and about half of those who appealed or asked for waivers received them. The Navy said Savage worked for Majette Trucking, which is based in Rich Square, N.C. A message left with the company Thursday was not immediately returned. According to federal records, the company has four drivers and four trucks that carry refrigerated goods.
Savage was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Mecklenburg County, N.C., and released from prison Dec. 30, 2009, records showed.
Savage and the victim were riding in a vehicle in 2005 when they began to struggle over a weapon and it fired, hitting the victim, who was then left on the side of the road, according to Keith Acree of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
Savage was also sentenced in Virginia in 1998 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. He served nearly five years in federal prison 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 for lawn care and debris removal service, according the office of the city’s commissioner of revenue.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles could 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 a tractor-trailer.
Also Thursday, military officials said autopsies had been done on Mayo and Savage. It could be weeks before autopsy results are provided to investigators. Results will include a toxicology report that would indicate whether there were any drugs or alcohol involved, Stone said.
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