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Navy charges sailor with Provost murder
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Navy charges sailor with Provost murder

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On July 23, Navy prosecutors charged 32-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Campos with fatally shooting and burning Gay Seaman August Provost during an arson attack against the compound of Assault Craft Unit 5 at Camp Pendleton on June 30, said Capt. Matt Brown, a spokesman for Navy Region Southwest.

Navy officials said the murder was a part of a crime spree not related to the victim's sexual orientation. Brown again stressed that there's no evidence of a hate crime or gang-related activity.

"It is essential to remember the Navy lost a well-respected sailor standing guard at his assigned post," Brown said during a July 23 news conference at the San Diego Naval Base.

The accused faces 16 charges, including murder, arson, unlawful entry, and theft of military property and wrongful possession of a firearm. In addition, Campos is charged with soliciting a civilian in San Diego to murder another sailor the day after Provost was killed.

According to Brown, the two sailors served in the 500-member assault craft unit and although it is likely they had met before, there's no evidence to suggest they knew each other well. He said Campos had served with the unit for most of the past two years, while Provost, who joined the Navy in March 2008, joined the unit in September of last year.

Navy officials say Campos was on a crime spree that began in May. They accuse him of using hallucinogenic mushrooms several times between May 1 and June 2.

They say on June 13, he allegedly broke into the off-base home of a fellow service member in San Diego where he stole an Xbox computer-game system, jewelry and a .45 caliber Kimber pistol - the same weapon used to kill Provost.

Then, on June 20, Campos was arrested for driving under the influence and was facing administrative punishment from Navy commanders.

"At the time," Brown said, "The Navy had not linked Campos to the home burglary."

Seaman Provost took his post at a guard shack along the driveway to the assault craft unit's entrance at 11:30 p.m. on June 30. Navy officials allege that sometime before 3:30 a.m., Campos approached the guard shack and shot Provost several times. They say he then stole Provost's 9mm Beretta service pistol. Campos then allegedly set fire to the shack, with Provost's body still inside, using gasoline and a lighter.

Brown said Campos set the fire "to destroy evidence." He said Campos is also accused of planning to set fire to one of the unit's landing craft, but he never made it into the compound.

According to Brown, Campos was arrested July 1 after he failed to show up for work. Brown did not specify why Campos became a suspect.

Navy officials say Campos is being held at the Miramar Naval Consolidated Brig. The Navy has yet to announce a date for Campos' pretrial hearing, known as an Article 32 proceeding.

The death of the Gay sailor became a media sensation after Gay-rights leaders and some of Provost's family and friends voiced concerns that he may have been killed because of his sexual orientation.

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