U.S. Serviceman Killed While Jogging Near Base
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Gunmen in a speeding car shot and killed a U.S. Air Force sergeant as he jogged in a neighborhood near Clark Air Base, authorities said.
A U.S. Air Force statement identified the victim as Technical Sgt. Richard Blackmer, 31, of Brook Park, Ohio, who was assigned to the 1961 Communications Group.
The statement said he was shot while jogging in the Mountain View subdivision of Angeles City, less than a mile from the base’s main gate. Angeles City is 50 miles northwest of Manila.
A Clark base spokeswoman, Capt. Maryellen Jadick, said ″initial reports indicate the shooting was criminal in nature and not politically motivated.″ Ms. Jadick, interviewed by telephone from Manila, would not elaborate on how Blackmer was killed.
Police Lt. Federico Naguit said a car sped by Blackmer as he jogged in Mountain View and gunmen in the vehicle sprayed the man with automatic gunfire.
It was the first slaying of a U.S. serviceman since Oct. 28, 1987, when gunmen killed two active-duty American servicemen and a retired U.S. military man outside Clark. Leftist guerrillas claimed responsibility for the October attacks.
In Washington, the Pentagon said the Clark Office of Special Investigations and local authorities are conducting a joint probe of the shooting.
Nearly 40 people have been killed in Angeles and other communities around Clark Air Base since Jan. 1. Police say most of the slayings are politically motivated, and consider the district around the base a communist stronghold.
Last December, an assistant U.S. defense secretary for East Asia, Karl D. Jackson, said the Pentagon was taking steps to protect the 8,000 U.S. servicemen stationed at Clark and 6,000 uniformed personnel at the Subic Bay Naval Base. They are the two largest American military installations outside the United States.
About 40,000 U.S. servicemen, civilian personnel and dependents live near Clark, Subic Bay and four smaller U.S. military installations.
Among the measures, Jackson said at the time, were tighter security on the bases, reductions in off-base leaves, anti-terrorist training for servicemen, reduction in travel to the bases and increased police patrol in the city outside Clark.
Earlier this year, U.S. officials also expressed concern about security around the six American bases in negotiations with Filipino authorities on the status of the installations. The talks began last April.
Philippine authorities are responsible for security around the installations. Philippine officials have agreed to improve security, but no details have been announced.
Communist rebels have been fighting to overthrow the Philippine government since 1969.