Navy: Suspect in Virginia stabbing arrested
PORTSMOUTH, Virginia (AP) — A man suspected of repeatedly stabbing a fellow sailor near a naval hospital was arrested Friday, ending an hourslong manhunt, according to the Navy.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell got into a morning argument with a fellow service member outside the Navy Exchange at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, Portsmouth Annex, the Navy said.
He was apprehended later in nearby Virginia Beach, said Capt. Michael “Jake” Johansson, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads. It wasn’t immediately clear when Harwell, 26, left the installation or how he did so. Johansson said the facility was placed on lockdown as soon as officials learned about the stabbing.
The installation where the stabbing occurred is home to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and sits near a residential area on the Elizabeth River, where thousands of people had gathered across the river in downtown Norfolk to watch a parade of ships as part of the annual Harborfest festival.
Security forces went door to door at the locked-down facility in search of the suspect. The Navy said Harwell was assigned to the Transient Personnel Unit in Norfolk and lived in a barracks on the Portsmouth installation. Transient personnel units serve sailors moving from one command to another as well as those who are about to leave the Navy, said Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokesman Jim Moir. Moir said he did not know which of those categories Harwell belonged to.
The Navy said the sailor who was stabbed in the chest and neck was taken to the naval hospital with critical injuries. The Navy identified him as Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Powell, 25, of Sarver, Pennsylvania, and said he remained in critical condition after surgery. Johansson said Powell’s wife was at the hospital during the surgery and that his parents were driving from Pennsylvania to be with him.
Associated Press Writer Steve Szkotak in Richmond contributed to this report.