Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, are searching for two rifles that went missing during a training exercise aboard their home base of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the Marine Corps confirmed.
“Marines are, and have been, actively searching for these weapons, which went missing in a training area aboard Camp Lejeune,” 1st Lt. Dan Linfante, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division, told Marine Corps Times in a Friday morning email.
He could not say exactly what type of rifles went missing, or how long they’ve been gone, because of an investigation launched by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The NCIS investigation started Dec. 18, and nobody has been arrested or charged as of 4:27 p.m. Friday, a NCIS spokesman told Marine Corps Times in an email.
The spokesman said they would not provide further comment “out of respect for the investigative process, and to protect witnesses."
However, he did ask that “anyone with knowledge of suspected crimes may submit tips anonymously to NCIS using the NCIS Tips mobile app or at www.ncis.navy.mil.”
Unconfirmed online rumors say that the rifles were taken from the sleeping bags of a lieutenant and corporal, and that Marines are being prevented from going on a holiday leave block until the search is complete and the rifles are recovered.
“Regarding the rumors, I can confirm that Marines are not being denied leave as a result of this incident,” Linfante told Marine Corps Times in a Friday afternoon email.
“Leave is an important benefit afforded to all Marines, in particular during the holiday season," he said.
Camp Lejeune is not locked down, Linfante was also was able to confirm in the email.
The biggest changes to the Marine Corps rifle qualification in about a century could be coming in 2021.
“We take incidents like this very seriously; accordingly, NCIS is conducting an active investigation at this time,” Linfante said in the earlier statement. “As such, further comment would be speculative.”
“Accountability is key ― and trained to often ― in 2d Marine Division,” Linfante said.
This story will be updated as more information is confirmed.