Okinawa officials protest Marines' handling of barricade incident

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An ambulance arrives on the scene at just after 1 p.m. Thursday as a standoff on Okinawa's Camp Lester housing area came to a peaceful end. The ambulance, which is surrounded by military police officers, left the scene several minutes later without its lights flashing. A lone Marine had allegedly barricaded himself in his home Thursday morning. Nearby residents say the Marine was in possession of an M-16 rifle. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)
From Stripes.com
An ambulance arrives on the scene at just after 1 p.m. Thursday as a standoff on Okinawa's Camp Lester housing area came to a peaceful end. The ambulance, which is surrounded by military police officers, left the scene several minutes later without its lights flashing. A lone Marine had allegedly barricaded himself in his home Thursday morning. Nearby residents say the Marine was in possession of an M-16 rifle. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Okinawa officials protest Marines' handling of barricade incident

by: Matthew M. Burke and Chiyomi Sumida | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: November 07, 2014

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Local community leaders met with Marine officials Wednesday to protest the handling of an Oct. 30 incident in which a Marine barricaded himself in his on-base home with a firearm, leading to a standoff with military police, officials said.

Officials say they were not informed about the Camp Lester incident until after it was over, according to a spokesman for Chatan Mayor Masaharu Noguni.

Noguni and a delegate from the Chatan town assembly filed the formal protest with Marine Corps headquarters on Camp Foster following a unanimous vote by the assembly.

“Should the rifle have been fired, it would have been a grave life-threatening matter to the neighboring community,” the resolution said. “No one was informed outside the military base during the time the incident was ongoing, exposing local residents to a life-threatening situation, which is nothing but disregard of human life and the military’s nature to cover up.”

The Marine, whose name has not been released, was talked out peacefully, neighbors and officials said. No one was injured.

Neighbors told Stars and Stripes about the weapon and said they had been evacuated early in the day. Marine officials would not comment on how the Marine got the rifle, citing an ongoing investigation.

Noguni’s chief secretary, Morimasa Sakumoto, said the house where the incident took place can be seen from the town office porch, which is adjacent to the base’s north end.

“Should the rifle have been fired, this building is within the firing range,” Sakumoto said.

According to Sakumoto, Marine officials said although the suspect had a rifle, there was no danger of him firing as he was contained in the bathroom and his mental condition was calm and stable.

During the incident, Marine officials put out several statements to local media and announcements on social media for base residents but did not mention a weapon was involved.

Camp Lester is a well-populated family housing area and home to Camp Lester middle school, which observed normal school hours that day.

Marine officials said at the time that there was no danger to the local community because the home, atop a hill in an isolated section of the base, had been secured by emergency personnel and MPs.

burke.matt@stripes.com

sumida.chiyomi@stripes.com