Navy Pilot Killing
January 6, 2012 by staff
Navy Pilot Killing, A New Year’s Day shooting that left four people dead at a condominium near San Diego was a murder-suicide involving a 25-year-old Navy pilot who killed himself, officials said Wednesday.
John Robert Reeves shot himself in the head, and the three others with him were murdered, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said, citing autopsy results.
Fellow Navy pilot David Reis, also 25, was killed by a gunshot wound to the torso, and his 24-year-old sister, Karen, suffered a gunshot wound to the head and chest, officials said. Matthew Saturley, 31, of Chula Vista was shot multiple times.
Sheriff’s Capt. Duncan Fraser said there were no outstanding suspects in the case, and police have found no evidence indicating there was an exchange of gunfire, although he declined to say if Reeves was the shooter, explaining that “we don’t have forensic evidence yet to say that definitively.”
“We have no eyewitnesses to what happened inside the residence,” Fraser told reporters. “We don’t know what the motive was.”
Reeves’ family members could not immediately be reached for comment.
The unusual case rocked the Navy’s elite, tight-knit aviation community, many of whom live on Coronado, a picturesque peninsular enclave of 24,000 people on San Diego Bay that recorded only one homicide in 2010 and is home to Naval Air Station North Island.
It takes years of training to get wings as a Navy pilot. Aviation students are selected after standing out among their Navy peers, and fighter jet pilots are considered to be top performers among pilots.
Reeves, of Prince Frederick, Md., and Reis, of Bakersfield, Calif., were both F/A-18 fighter pilots assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at nearby Miramar Air Station. Both men joined the Navy in 2008 at separate universities.
Pilots in the program undergo a battery of rigorous physical, psychological and background tests before finishing the highly competitive program, Navy officials said. Their top-notch skills and mental toughness were featured in Hollywood’s “Top Gun” – parts of which were filmed at Miramar.
The two Naval officers were in the final rung of their jet fighter training.
“The hardest thing you ever do in aviation is carrier landing aboard a ship at sea, so these guys were the pick of the litter,” said Ernie Christensen, a retired rear admiral and former Vietnam fighter pilot who commanded the Navy’s Top Gun fighter school for a time in the 1980s.
The two Navy pilots lived at the condominium with another Navy pilot who was out of town at the time. Friends and family members say they were not aware of any problems in the household, investigators said.
Military officials have been assisting the investigation but would provide no details on the two pilots or the training or psychological tests they had been undergoing, saying it was too early to do so in the probe.
Authorities were awaiting toxicology results to see if drugs or alcohol might have played a role.
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