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Tenn. guardsman indicted in armory shooting

Oct. 30, 2013 - 07:12PM   |  
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MEMPHIS, TENN. — A Tennessee National Guard recruiter was indicted Wednesday on charges that he tried to kill four of his superiors last week at an armory north of Memphis.

Sgt. 1st Class Amos Patton made an appearance in federal court in Memphis, about an hour after the U.S. attorney’s office said he was indicted on nine counts related to last Thursday’s shooting at the Millington armory.

Patton’s public defender told U.S. District Magistrate Judge Tu Pham that Patton now wants to hire his own lawyer. A different judge appointed the public defender after Patton requested one in court Friday.

Pham waived the detention hearing and rescheduled his arraignment for Nov. 13.

Prosecutors say Patton, 42, opened fire with a 9mm Glock pistol inside the armory north of Memphis after he was told he would be relieved of duty, reduced in rank and dismissed from active service for alleged misconduct. The nature of the alleged misconduct has not been revealed by prosecutors or Guard officials.

Authorities said last week that Patton shot Maj. William J. Crawford, Sgt. Maj. Ricky R. McKenzie and Lt. Col. Hunter Belcher in the leg area. They were treated and released from a hospital.

The indictment said Patton assaulted the fourth Guard member with a deadly weapon and also engaged in physical contact with him. The indictment doesn’t say whether that person was hurt, and prosecutors were not available for comment after Wednesday’s hearing.

The indictment identified the fourth Guard member only as Sgt. Maj. “CTC.”

Patton, of the Memphis suburb of Cordova, has been in the Guard 14 years, officials said. Records show Patton has a state-issued permit to carry a handgun, but it is not clear if the pistol referred to in the indictment is military issued or Patton’s.

One of the shooting victims had been expected to testify at Wednesday’s hearing before it was waived. Patton’s wife declined comment outside the courtroom.

The armory, which houses a recruitment office, sits across the street from Naval Support Activity Mid-South on land that used to be part of a larger military installation. Navy officials ordered a lockdown there during the tense minutes after the shooting, lifting it after word came that someone was in custody.

The confrontation lasted “no more than just a minute or so,” FBI Special Agent Todd McCall said last week.

Patton faces four counts of unlawfully trying to kill a federal employee, four counts of assaulting a federal employee with a deadly weapon and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

If convicted, he could serve up to 20 years in prison on each of the attempt to kill and assault charges. Patton faces a minimum of 10 years if convicted on the firearms charge.

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