Okinawa Marine arrested after allegedly jumping roof to roof


Okinawa Marine arrested after allegedly jumping roof to roof

by: Travis J. Tritten and Chiyomi Sumida | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: February 20, 2013

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Another drunken off-base trespassing incident has riled Okinawa’s leaders just days after the Marine Corps followed other services and relaxed strict curfew and drinking rules for its servicemembers in Japan.

Pvt. Nicholas J. Kelly, 22, who is assigned to Camp Foster, was in Japanese police custody Tuesday after entering a local resident’s yard Monday afternoon, climbing on homes and attempting to jump from a rooftop to escape authorities, according to a spokesman for the Okinawa prefectural police.

Kelly smelled of alcohol but refused a breath test, police said.

Such incidents — including the alleged gang rape of Okinawan woman in October — have triggered public outrage, leading the U.S. military to issue a Japan-wide curfew and set stringent new restrictions on alcohol.

The Marine Corps on Friday eased an 11 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew at bases on Okinawa and mainland Japan as well as restrictions for on-base alcohol sales, but a ban on drinking in off-base bars and restaurants will remain in place, and all enlisted Marines at the rank of sergeant and below have a midnight curfew.

The changes are in line with relaxed curfew rules issued by U.S. Forces Japan and adopted by the Air Force, Army and Navy last week. The Marine Corps on Okinawa did not immediately return a request for comment from Stars and Stripes Tuesday.

But the changes were only in effect for a weekend when news of Monday’s arrest was broadcast across Okinawa, where public anger over such crime is most intense and the prefectural government was again pressing the military to rein in servicemembers.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima’s office said it filed a complaint with the Marines and the Japan Ministry of Defense on Okinawa.

“It is very regrettable that such an incident occurred when the military just announced revised liberty rules,” the governor’s office said in the complaint, which asked the Marines to come up with better measures to prevent off-base crimes.

Police said Kelly was seen in the backyard of a home in Ginowan, near Camp Foster, on Monday afternoon.

Neighbors and police watched the Marine jump from rooftop to rooftop for about an hour before he was arrested around 1:30 p.m.

Kelly attempted to hide from Japanese police, then tried to jump from the roof of a two-story building to avoid being arrested, but police stopped him, the police spokesman said. A jump to the concrete below could have been fatal, he said.

He was being held by police pending possible trespassing charges by Japanese prosecutors, who have 10 days to decide whether to prosecute.

Meanwhile, the case which sparked the curfew — two sailors charged with gang raping and robbing an Okinawan woman — is set to go to trial next week.

Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, both 23, are accused of choking and raping the woman in a parking lot outside Kadena Air Base for nearly an hour Oct. 16, according to the Naha public prosecutor’s office and police statements. Browning is also charged with stealing 7,000 yen (about $87) from the woman’s bag.