Naval officer that stopped active shooter to face charges for discharging weapon

Naval Officer Lt. Commander Timothy White (left) and mass-shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez (right).

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

Naval Officer Lt. Commander Timothy White pictured in uniform.  (Photo: Contributed Photo / Times Free Press)
Naval Officer Lt. Commander Timothy White pictured in uniform. (Photo: Contributed Photo / Times Free Press)

CHATTANOOGA, TN — When a deranged killer crashed a vehicle into a military reserve center and began shooting, a Naval officer drew a personal handgun and helped stop the attack.  Now it is being reported that the officer, regarded as a hero to many, will be facing charges because he discharged a weapon on federal property.

* * * * *

Naval Officer Lt. Commander Timothy White (left) and mass-shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez (right).
Naval Officer Lt. Commander Timothy White (left) and mass-shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez (right).

On the morning of July 16th, 2015, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait, went on a bloody shooting-spree at two federal offices.  First, he shot up the military recruiting center on Old Lee Highway in Chattanooga, and then sped 7-miles away to perform a second attack on the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway.

At the second location, Abdulazeez crashed his rented Ford Mustang through a gate and began shooting outside the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center, indiscriminately firing at any target he saw. Although the building contained dozens of trained U.S. servicemen, Department of Defense regulations require them to be disarmed on federal property.  Abdulazeez held the upper hand and murdered several unarmed marines, and continued his attack for several minutes until a secretly-armed Naval officer engaged him in a firefight, along with responding Chattanooga police officers.

When the smoke had cleared, Abdulazeez was killed, along with four U.S. servicemen; a fifth succumbed to his wounds in a hospital.

The attack rocked the nation and led to a call for ending the nonsensical weapons prohibition on military bases.  The Pentagon promptly refused to change its rule.

A "firearms are prohibited" sign hangs ironically at the site of a mass murder in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16, 2015.
A “firearms are prohibited” sign hangs ironically at the site of a mass murder in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16, 2015.

Despite the prohibition on carrying personal weapons on base, at least two servicemen apparently broke that rule, risking consequences but ultimately saving innocent lives by hindering the efforts of the active shooter.  Those men included Naval Officer Lt. Commander Timothy White, as well as a U.S. marine.

But rather than being celebrated as a hero, Lt. Commander White may be instead charged for discharging a firearm on federal property.  A former U.S. Congressman from Florida, Lt. Commander Allen West (U.S. Army, retired) personally confirmed that White will face charges.  West, a passionate war veteran, said that he received word of legal action and became “dog fighting mad and seriously pissed off.” Here’s what he wrote:

Ladies and gents, resulting from the text message I received yesterday, I can confirm that the United States Navy is bringing charges against Lt. Cmdr Timothy White for illegally discharging a firearm on federal property.

The text message asked if it would be possible for Lt. Cmdr White to reach out to me. To wit I replied, affirmative.

What kind of freaking idiots are in charge of our Armed Forces — pardon me, our “unArmed Forces”? What would they prefer that Abdulazeez had been able to kill all the Marines and Sailors at the Naval Support Reserve Center? Let me draw an interesting contrast: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is more concerned about lifting the ban on transgendered Sailors. Mabus has a problem in that for the first time since 2007 the US Navy will not have a Carrier Battle Group operating in the Persian Gulf. But this knucklehead has no problem with the Navy seeking to destroy the career of a Sailor, a commander of an installation, returning fire against an Islamic jihadist attack. I do not care if it was his personal weapon, he deserves a medal for facing the enemy.

UPDATE:  A second source has come forth affirming the truth behind the pending charges.   Jim Webb — a former U.S. Senator and former Secretary of the Navy — said that inside sources had informed him that the Navy was “seriously considering” punitive action.  Here’s what he posted on Twitter:

Navy charging LCDR Tim White w/ a crime for trying to defend our sailors & Marines in #Chattanooga? He deserves a medal, not an indictment.
6:01 PM – 1 Aug 2015 

Before tweeting last night, we confirmed with a defense official that the Navy was seriously considering charging LCDR Timothy White.
9:25 AM – 2 Aug 2015

The charge being considered is illegally discharging a firearm on federal property. No on the record comment was offered.
9:25 AM – 2 Aug 2015

That the U.S. government would punish well-intentioned Americans for exercising the right to bear arms is not new and not surprising.  The wrongheaded “no guns” policy has also led to a great deal of unnecessary bloodshed, many times in the civilian world, and famously at Fort Hood, where mass-murderers have targeted unarmed servicemen on base in 2009 and in 2014.

While we can only hope that political pressure will cause the department to back off of Lt. Commander White, a great injustice and great vulnerability will remain in every federal gun-free zone until the policy is entirely abolished.

UPDATE: A spokesman for the U.S. Navy denied reports that disciplinary charges will be filed against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for discharging an unauthorized weapon on federal property, according to The Chattanoogan.  This statement does not indicate that the Navy was not “seriously considering” charges, as stated by the high-profile sources.  Perhaps this is the bureaucracy bending to the enormously negative attention that has already been generated.

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