NORFOLK, Vir. - Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo, 24, was killed during a shooting incident at Naval Station Norfolk Monday. Mayo was assigned to Naval Security Forces, Naval Station Norfolk.
Norfolk Naval Base commander Robert Clark said the young sailor sacrificed himself to save others.
“It was incredibly extraordinary,” says Clark.
The shooting happened around 11:20pm Monday night at Pier 1 onboard the USS Mahan.
Mark Mayo was protecting a sailor who first confronted a civilian intruder. That man, a truck driver, tried to board the destroyer Mahan. He disarmed the watch stander and then turned the watch stander’s gun at Mayo.
“He jumped into the way between the gunman and the petty officer of the watch. She fell to the ground. He covered her and he basically gave his life for hers,” says Clark.
“Doing that, that’s something he would do,” says Virgil Savage, a fellow sailor and close friend of Mayo. “He always stood up for the little guy.”
Savage says he got to know Mayo working security at Naval Station Norfolk.
“Everybody loved him,” he says. “Wherever you were at, whether he worked at the armory or waterside, he kept you laughing.”
Savage says Mayo was known for his upbeat personality as well as his dedication to duty.
“It’s always in the back of your mind but you never expect it,” Savage says. “You never expect it to happen.”
Mayo, serving as the chief-of-the-guard, rendered assistance after seeing the suspect board the ship. Mayo put himself between the gunman and the petty officer of the watch and as a result was fatally wounded. Naval security forces then killed the suspect.
The shootout happened on the ship. When it was done, Mayo was dead and so was the intruder. Agents say they know who he is, but not why he did it.
“We have been able to rule out any additional threat to the Navy pertaining to this civilian. We have ruled out any link to terrorism. And preliminary facts do not indicate this was a pre-planned attack,” officials say.
“Devastation,” Savage says, describing the moment he found out about the shooting. “I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I’m still expecting him to pop out around the corner and say I gotcha.”
There are still a lot of questions about what happened and why, but what Mayo did is undisputed.
“What he did for his country, what he did for the sailor’s life that he saved, he’s a hero,” Savage says.
Naval Station Norfolk was briefly on lockdown for approximately 45 minutes as a precautionary measure after the shooting.
With the exception of Pier 1, all operations have returned to normal at Naval Station Norfolk.
The Mahan has a crew of 30 officers and 250 enlisted sailors.
The circumstances surrounding the shooting are under investigation by NCIS and Naval security forces.
Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command appointed Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley to lead the investigation.
Rear Adm. Harley is currently serving as the President, Board of Inspection and Survey based in Norfolk.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and shipmates of our sailors who were killed Monday night,” said Gortney. “I have directed a second investigation to be conducted in addition to the law enforcement investigation led by Naval Criminal Investigative Service.”
The second investigation will be convened under the Manual of the Judge Advocate General. This investigation will be a comprehensive examination into the circumstances surrounding the Naval Station Norfolk shooting, to include a review of applicable policy, programs, and implementation.
“The safety and security of our sailors, civilians, and families is paramount, and it is imperative that we are taking all appropriate and necessary measures to ensure their safety,” said Gortney.
“Petty Officer Mayo’s actions on Monday evening were nothing less than heroic. He selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of the Sailors on board USS Mahan (DDG 72),” said Capt. Robert E. Clark, Jr., commanding officer, Naval Station Norfolk. “Petty Officer Mayo’s family has endured a tremendous loss, as have the men and women of Naval Station Norfolk, in the loss of a shipmate and friend.”
A Hagerstown, Md. native, Mayo enlisted in the Navy in Oct. 2007 and reported to Naval Station Norfolk in May 2011.