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One sailor shot near Fort Detrick released from hospital, one remains in critical condition

Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet, a Navy hospital corpsman who shot and wounded two fellow sailors before Fort Detrick security forces shot and killed him at the nearby Army base had been assigned to a medical research center in Maryland for nearly two years. Authorities said Woldesenbet and the two men he shot Tuesday, April 6, 2021, were all assigned to Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.

CITY OF FREDERICK, MD.

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 7, 2021

One of two sailors wounded Tuesday in a shooting near Fort Detrick, Md., has been released from a Baltimore hospital, though the other is still in critical condition, according to the Navy.

The two men were shot at about 8:20 a.m. by Petty Officer 3rd Class Fantahun Woldesenbet, 38, at a Navy warehouse located in Frederick, the city outside of the Army base. After shooting the two sailors, Fantahun drove to Fort Detrick, attempted to enter the base and was killed about 25 minutes later as he ran from base police.

All three sailors were assigned to a Navy research center at Fort Detrick, but officials have declined to offer any possible motive in the shooting.

“We want to ensure the public we are investigating this incident from all angles,” stated a joint release from the Frederick Police Department, Fort Detrick and the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “When the agencies have information that we have confirmed we will release it.”

One of the men who was shot, Seaman Casey Nutt, a 26-year-old hospital corpsman, was released Tuesday night from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, according to the Navy.

The other man wounded in the shooting, Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos Portugal, 36, who is also a medic, remains at the Baltimore hospital.

“The Fort Detrick community is here to offer support as our brave sailors heal from this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Mike Talley, commander of the Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick.

Nutt and Portugal were inside a Riverside Tech Park warehouse, which is rented by the Naval Medical Research Center, Biological Defense Research Directorate to store research supplies and equipment, when Woldesenbet entered and began shooting, police said.

Nutt fled the scene and ran into a nearby business called Nicolock Paving Stones.

“Our team was able to assist them and called the authorities,” said Jeremy Mutschler, a spokesman for the company.

Frederick police found Portugal inside the warehouse.

After shooting the two sailors, Woldesenbet drove about 4 miles to Fort Detrick, where the base’s civilian police department stopped him just outside the Nallin Farm Gate because his vehicle matched the description of an alert issued by Frederick police, Talley had said.

Before Woldesenbet could be searched, he sped past the gate and drove about a 1/2 mile onto the base before he was stopped in a parking lot by the Fort Detrick Quick Reaction Force, Talley said.

Woldesenbet then brandished a weapon and was shot by police. Emergency medical personnel worked for about 20 minutes before the sailor was pronounced dead at the scene.

Woldesenbet was from Virginia and he had been assigned to the same center in Frederick since August 2019, according to his service record. He lived in an apartment in Frederick with his wife and two children, according to The Associated Press.

Portugal is from Pennsylvania and enlisted in the Navy in March 2006, according to his official service record. He was promoted to his current rank of E-6 in March 2020 and has been assigned to the Navy Medical Research Center in Frederick since September.

His awards and decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Navy Unit Commendations, Meritorious Unit Commendation, four Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, five Sea Service Deployment Ribbons and an Overseas Service Ribbon.

Nutt is from Texas and enlisted in the Navy in February 2018, according to his service record. He joined the Navy Medical Research Center in Frederick in October 2019 as his first nonstudent assignment with the Navy.

Fort Detrick hosts the military’s flagship biological defense laboratory and several federal civilian biodefense labs, The AP reported. About 10,000 military personnel and civilians work on the base, which encompasses about 1,300 acres in the city of Frederick.

“The team on the installation and our local law enforcement officers responded superbly and kept the installation safe,” Col. Dexter Nunnally, Fort Detrick garrison commander, said Wednesday in a message to base residents. “Our focus now is shifting to an after-action report to identify areas where we performed as expected and areas where there were possibly some gaps.”

Base officials said they have already found problems with systems meant to alert residents of a dangerous situation. The “big voice” alert system did not clearly state there was an active-shooter event, Nunnally said. In addition, residents who are not Defense Department-affiliated did not receive email alerts because the alerts only went to residents with a Defense Department email address.

“We’ve identified those two immediate gaps and we will work to correct those,” Nunnally said.

The investigation remains ongoing at the base, with the FBI leading efforts. Frederick police are leading the investigation of the crime scene in the city.

Nunnally said the base is focused on the needs of the sailors impacted as well as the three Fort Detrick police officers who confronted Woldesenbet. Additional resources, including an emergency family assistance hotline, are available to help anyone who feels impacted by the events. The hotline can be reached at 1-833-993-1042.

Thayer.rose@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rose_Lori