Japanese accuse Kadena airman of trespassing, vandalism
Stars and Stripes March 5, 2008
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An airman assigned to Kadena Air Base was in Japanese custody Monday facing charges of trespassing and vandalism.
An Okinawa police spokesman said Airman Wesley Kevin Taft, 21, was apprehended about 6:40 a.m. Sunday in Okinawa City’s Chibana district, near the air base, when officers responded to burglar alarms set off at a local business.
About an hour earlier, someone gained access into the offices of the Okinawa Contractors Association by breaking glass in the front door. An office door also was broken.
According to the police report, Taft was spotted about 600 feet away and ran when he saw police. After a short chase he attempted to hide in bushes, but was caught and taken into custody. Lying near him was an iron pipe he later told police he used to gain access into the building, the police spokesman said.
The officers said Taft smelled strongly of alcohol.
Taft was asked to come to the Okinawa police station for further questioning and was arrested at 4:39 p.m.
Police said the airman tested positive for being intoxicated and admitted to breaking into the office after sneaking out of the Camp Shields area by climbing over a fence. His hands were bleeding when he was apprehended, according to the police report.
Damage to the offices was estimated at 50,000 yen (about $460). Police said it appeared nothing was taken from the office.
A Kadena Air Base spokesman said Air Force officials are cooperating with local police.
“These allegations, if true, are unfortunate and do not reflect the actions of the vast majority of our airmen, civilians and their families here at Kadena,” said Beth Gosselin, chief of Media Relations for the 18th Wing.
Sunday’s incident was the second reported arrest of an American over the weekend and came at a time when all military and Defense Department civilians on Okinawa and Marine bases in mainland Japan were restricted to their bases or their off-base homes. The military lifted the restrictions late Monday evening.
On Saturday, a 42-year-old U.S. civilian was arrested by Okinawa narcotics officers on suspicion of using cocaine.
Manuel D. Taitano was arrested after the drug was detected in a urine sample, according to a police spokeswoman. He’s the husband of a Marine base employee who lives on Kadena.
Taitano was at the home of a Japanese man in the Furugen district of Yomitan when police raided the home in a search for drugs, the spokeswoman said. The occupant of the home, Yuichi Mekaru, 29, who is unemployed, and another Japanese man also were arrested.