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Documents: Portsmouth stabbing occurred in barracks

Jun. 9, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Petty officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell has been arrested in the stabbing at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads Portsmouth annex.
Petty officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell has been arrested in the stabbing at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads Portsmouth annex. (WVEC)
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NORFOLK, VA. — A stabbing at a Virginia Navy installation that led to a massive manhunt occurred in the facility's barracks, not at the Navy Exchange, according to court records filed Monday.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Garrett Harwell stabbed Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin D. Powell multiple times Friday during a fight in a barracks near Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. The Navy originally reported that the stabbing happened outside the exchange, where service members and their families can shop.

Powell, 25, of Sarver, Pennsylvania, was stabbed in the neck and the abdomen multiple times, and witnesses reported seeing a large amount of blood on his shirt and neck, according to the affidavit.

Witnesses saw the two struggling but initially backed away for their own safety after seeing that Harwell had a blade, the affidavit says. Once the two men were separated, Powell made it out of the building with the help of others before collapsing near the Navy Exchange.

"Once the two were separated the victim began clinching his throat and started walking down the corridor out of the barracks attempting to ask for help," the affidavit says.

Harwell, 26, told another person with whom he had spoken and exchanged text messages that he had stabbed Powell and thought that he might die, according to the affidavit. Harwell made an initial court appearance on Monday on charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was ordered to remain in custody until a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday. A magistrate judge ordered a court appointed attorney be provided for Harwell.

Powell was originally listed in critical condition after the stabbing, but was upgraded to good condition over the weekend, according to Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokesman Jim Moir.

The stabbing led to an hours-long lockdown at the medical center while authorities searched for Harwell.

Harwell was arrested at a hotel at the oceanfront by in nearby Virginia Beach. Authorities have not said how or when Harwell got off the installation.

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