Quantico shooting leaves three Marines dead
Updated: March 25, 2013 - 07:03 am
Authorities with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are continuing to look for clues, in connection with Thursday's suspected murder-suicide at Marine Corps Base Quantico, involving three Marines.
It has been anything but a peaceful weekend in the small community of Guntown, Mississippi, where friends and family of 23-year old Cpl. Jacob Wooley are trying to deal with his sudden, violent death.
"He was an amazing young man," says Taylor Wilson, who's known Wooley since at least the eighth grade. "He was nice."
Investigators say Wooley and Lance Cpl. Sara Castro Mata, 19, of Oakley, California, were gunned down in the Taylor Hall Barracks around 11 p.m. Thursday night.
The accused shooter is identified as Sgt. Eusebio Lopez, 25, of Pacifica, California.
Police believe Lopez, a tactics instructor, entered the barracks, shot and killed Wooley, then opened fire on Castromata, before killing himself.
Authorities have not released a motive.
Wooley and Castro Mata were Facebook friends. There are reports the shootings stemmed from a relationship dispute.
"We just ask for thoughts and prayers. Everyone's... shocked," says Quantico Spokesman 1st Lt. Agustin Solivan.
"We're trying to understand not just the details, but why something like this happened," he added.
All three Marines worked as staffers at the Officer Candidates School.
Lopez had served both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wooley was a field radio operator; Castro Mata, a warehouse clerk. Neither had been deployed.
"There was no question that he loved his mom, he loved his country," says Jesse Perriman, a friend of Wooley's. "Most of all, you knew he loved God."
Friends describe Wooley as deeply religious, active in his church. But also an athlete, with a sense of humor.
Former teacher Rebecca Lewis, whose son played sports with Wooley, remembers many road trips to different events.
"They're in the backseat singing at the top of their lungs, when we traveled to baseball games," she recalled with a smile.
Before he joined the Marines, Wooley told friends he was considering becoming a preacher. He was known among classmates, as a peacemaker.
"I lost someone close to me in the eighth grade and he just held me and told me everything was going to be okay," Wilson says.
Military investigators are interviewing friends and acquaintances of the three Marines, looking into any personal problems or stress-related issues.
Among Wooley's friends, there is a deep sense of loss... and memories that now, have taken on added poignancy.
"He wouldn't let no one just pick on anybody, talk about anyone," says Cody Kemp, a friend. "He'd just make a brighter example."
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