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Feds file more charges in Tenn. armory shooting

Apr. 15, 2014 - 12:28PM   |  
A patient believed to be one of the National guardsmen injured near the naval base in Millington, Tenn., was taken to The Med in Memphis on Oct. 24, 2013.
A patient believed to be one of the National guardsmen injured near the naval base in Millington, Tenn., was taken to The Med in Memphis on Oct. 24, 2013. ()
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MEMPHIS, TENN. — Federal prosecutors have added new charges against a Tennessee National Guard recruiter accused of trying to kill four superiors in a shooting at an armory northeast of Memphis.

A superseding indictment filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis adds eight new charges against Amos Patton, a 14-year Guard veteran. He has pleaded not guilty to existing charges that he tried to kill four Guard members inside the armory in Millington on Oct. 24.

The new charges were filed after Patton’s defense lawyer challenged prosecutors’ legal grounds for charging Patton in federal court.

Prosecutors say Patton pulled a gun from a fanny pack and started shooting after he was told he was being relieved of duty and dismissed from active service for alleged misconduct. Authorities say three guard members suffered minor injuries in the shooting. A fourth soldier fought with Patton and helped subdue him after he fled the armory, authorities said.

The original charges said the victims were acting as officers and employees of the United States when they were shot.

The new charges filed April 2 specify that the victims were shot at Naval Support Activity Memphis “Northside,” a base that is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Patton assaulted Guard members with intent to commit murder on “land acquired for the use of the United States,” the superseding indictment said.

The base is home to human resources operations and serves as headquarters to the Navy Personnel Command, Navy Recruiting Command, the Navy Manpower Analysis Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Finance Center. The armory is across the street from the main part of the base.

The additional charges were handed down after Patton’s defense lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the federal government has no grounds to charge Patton. Attorney Michael Stengel argued that the Guard members were shot while performing their duties as state officers, not federal officers.

The motion said that while members of Tennessee Army National Guard simultaneously enlist in both the Tennessee National Guard and National Guard of the United States, they are part of a separate state Guard unit “unless and until ordered to active duty in the Army.”

“None of the alleged victims were in active federal service at the pertinent time,” the motion said.

U.S. District Judge John Fowlkes has not ruled on the motion to dismiss.

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