Navy provides more details, IDs sailor shot, killed on base in Virginia Beach
By COURTNEY MABEUS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: February 28, 2017
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Tribune News Service) — A sailor who crashed through Gate 2 of Oceana Naval Air Station late Friday made it all the way to the hangar for the squadron he worked for before he was shot and killed by a master at arms, U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command said Sunday night.
Seaman Robert Colton Wright enlisted in the Navy in May 2016 and was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 81, based at Oceana, since Dec. 27, according to a Navy biography. He worked as an information systems technician for the squadron, which flies F/A-18E Super Hornets, according to the unit’s website.
Wright’s death occurred after a string of events that began with a hit-and-run about a mile from Oceana at the intersection of Dam Neck and Drakesmile roads just before 10 p.m. Friday. According to Virginia Beach police, they responded to the incident and were given a vehicle description by the victim. No injuries were reported. An incident report released Monday to The Virginian-Pilot by Virginia Beach Police identified the victim's vehicle as a silver 2013 Dodge Dart and said the suspect was driving a 2012 Dodge Ram pickup.
Police said they canvassed the area and found damage at Oceana’s Gate 2 near London Bridge Road, at least a mile from the scene of the accident. The gate, which sits far off the main road, was closed and unmanned at the time, a Navy official has said.
Virginia Beach police “made access” to the base, according to a news release on the department’s website. A petty officer on watch inside Hangar 111, home of VFA 81, called base security to report someone “yelling and causing damage in squadron hallways,” the Navy said.
Wright, of Colorado, refused to show his hands and moved aggressively toward the responding master at arms officials, one of whom fired one shot, the Navy said.
Wright was taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where he later died.
Wright’s black Dodge pickup was heavily damaged, a Navy official said. It was found outside the hangar’s security perimeter, the Navy said.
Family members reached Sunday night asked for privacy.
Before entering the Navy, Wright, who was believed to be in his early 20s, was a volunteer firefighter with the Franktown Fire Protection District, about 35 miles southeast of Denver. Deputy Chief David Woodrick said he attended an open house there and wanted to get involved not because of the excitement of working in a firehouse but because he was motivated to “help people, be there, and make a positive difference.”
Woodrick called Friday’s incident out of character for Wright, who had received the Navy Basic Military Honor Graduate Ribbon. The ribbon awards superior performance during basic training and is given to “no more” than 3 percent of graduates from each training group, according to a Navy news release.
A Navy Criminal Investigative Service investigation and a command investigation by Navy Region Mid-Atlantic are under way.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to pay for funeral expenses for Wright.