Norfolk, Va. – A watchstander on the destroyer Mahan raised her pistol to intruder Jeffrey Savage, but could not disengage the gun’s safety. Savage snatched the pistol and killed another sailor with it before other sailors shot the intruder.
That account was relayed to NewsChannel 3 by several federal sources who provided the first account of how Savage, a civilian truck driver, got past a security guard on Pier 1 and onto the Mahan. The sources all spoke on condition of anonymity because the Navy has not yet released an official report on the shooting.
Last week, NewsChannel 3 revealed how a guard at Norfolk Naval Station’s Gate 5 let a truck driven by Savage onto the base without any ID checks. In late March, Savage pulled his truck to the gate and made a hand motion to the guard, which the guard mistook as a request to make a U-turn. Sources told NewsChannel 3 the guard did not ask for any ID before letting the truck pass. But Savage’s truck did not turn around. Instead, Savage motored to Pier 1 and parked.
Here, according to sources, is what happened next:
Master At Arms Mark Mayo and another sailor were on patrol. Mayo pulled his vehicle up to the checkpoint at Pier 1. The sentry there moved traffic cones so Mayo’s truck could drive onto the pier. Moments later, the pier sentry noticed a man slip past the checkpoint and head down the pier. The man ignored the sentry’s calls. The sentry radioed the Mahan.
Sailors watched Savage stumbling down the pier, at times talking to himself and other times screaming. Some remembered Savage flailing his arms. Savage walked to the end of the pier and looked into containers. He reversed and stopped briefly at the brow of the hospital ship Comfort before heading to the Mahan. Savage walked up the destroyer’s brow.
Mayo and the sailor with him pursued Savage up the ramp as the ship’s watchstander tried to keep him from boarding. At one point, the watchstander drew her pistol. Savage yelled “give me that gun,” the watchstander raised the firearm to point it at him but could not disengage the safety. Another sailor yelled at her to shoot, but Savage snatched away the gun. Mayo and his assistant wrestled with Savage, who pulled away. Mayo shoved the disarmed sailor to the ground and protected her while Savage shot him. Other sailors opened fire. In moments, both Mayo and Savage were dead.
Sources tell NewsChannel 3 they have uncovered no connection between Savage and the ship or any member of the crew. They don’t know why he drove to the base or to the pier. Investigators did learn Savage, a felon with a criminal record for crack dealing and manslaughter, had been smoking “Spice.” That’s a synthetic marijuana known to trigger hallucinations and strange behavior.
For sacrificing himself to save the disarmed sailor, Mayo received the Navy and Marine Corps medal for heroism. He was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery. A toxicology report will show what drugs, if any, were in Savage’s system the night of the murder.