National Guard shooting suspect faced job loss, discipline

Major General Terry M. "Max" Haston (2nd L), Adjutant General Tennessee National Guard tours the scene of a shooting at the National Guard Armory in Millington, Tennessee October 24, 2013. A National Guard recruiter accused of wounding three sup
Major General Terry M. "Max" Haston (2nd L), Adjutant General Tennessee National Guard tours the scene of a shooting at the National Guard Armory in Millington, Tennessee October 24, 2013. A National Guard recruiter accused of wounding three superiors near Memphis, Tennessee, had just been relieved of duty when he pulled a handgun from a "fanny pack" and began shooting, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) affidavit released on Friday with a federal criminal complaint. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (REUTERS) - A National Guard recruiter accused of wounding three superiors near Memphis, Tennessee, had just been relieved of duty when he pulled a handgun from a "fanny pack" and began shooting, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) affidavit released on Friday with a federal criminal complaint.

Sergeant First Class Amos Patton is accused of opening fire on supervisors after they told him during a meeting on Thursday at a recruiting centre that he was being relieved of duty for misconduct. They told Patton he would be recommended for a reduction in rank and dismissal from the active Guard reserve, the affidavit filed in Memphis federal court said.

The complaint does not specify the nature of the misconduct.

Patton, 42, was formally charged on Friday with one count of assault, and one count of using a firearm in a violent crime.

He appeared briefly in United States (US) District Court in Memphis on Friday afternoon, where Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo ordered him held without bond until a detention hearing on Wednesday.

If convicted, Patton faces up to 20 years in prison on the assault charge and a minimum of 10 years on the firearms charge, prosecutors said.

During the meeting between supervisors and Patton, the veteran recruiter was told to retrieve government equipment believed to be in his government car parked outside the recruiting centre, FBI special agent Matthew Ross said in the affidavit.

Patton was carrying a "fanny pack" when he returned and when he tried to access it, one of the guardsman shouted "Gun!" the complaint said. Patton fired the handgun as a senior non-commissioned officer subdued him outside the building. The handgun was recovered at the scene, it said.

Three Tennessee National Guardsmen in the room were struck by rounds, Mr Ross said in the affidavit.

The Tennessee National Guard identified the wounded men as Major William J Crawford, Sergeant Major Ricky R McKenzie and Lieutenant Colonel Hunter Belcher.

Maj Crawford was shot in the leg, Maj McKenzie in the foot and Lt Col Belcher was grazed below the knee, the National Guard said. A round also passed through a backpack Lt Col Belcher was wearing, it said. All three were treated and released.

The incident occurred around mid-day on Thursday inside a National Guard armoury in Millington, which is about 27km north of Memphis.

The National Guard armoury is across the street from the US Naval Support Activity Mid-South facility, which manages personnel records. The Navy facility was locked down briefly as a precaution, the Navy said.

The incident took place just over a month after a contract worker opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept 16, killing 12 people before being shot dead by police.