Rep. Taylor explains Navy briefing on issues from Ashanti Billie case
The case of a 19-year-old kidnapped from a local military base is now prompting discussions between Navy higher-ups and elected leaders. Congressman Scott Taylor is getting answers about base security after Ashanti Billie was abducted from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach.
Ashanti's parents brought their concerns to Congressman Taylor when their daughter was still missing. Now, he's asking Navy officials, folks from the FBI, NCIS and other parts of the base to address those concerns and questions 13News Now brought to him throughout the case.
The Virginia Beach congressman's list of topics for Monday's briefing started with something we've been investigating for almost two months -- questions about the quality of the surveillance camera package at Little Creek.
“When was it installed, is it up to par, is it doing what it was designed to do,” Taylor asked.
He said Commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Rear Admiral Jack Scorby told him those cameras are designed to read license plates and see the cars at the gates and they did just that.
“According to Admiral Scorby, they swap them out when necessary,” Taylor relayed.
The Representative also asked Rear Admiral Scorby if the Navy could use money now to switch out all the surveillance cameras. He was told the cameras work as necessary and if given the opportunity, that money would likely be used in a different way.
There was also a broader conversation about base security after court documents in suspect Eric Brown's case revealed other potential issues.
In the criminal complaint, the FBI wrote investigators believe Brown is homeless and resided in random places on the bases. It's an allegation that drew a lot of criticism from people wondering how a homeless person can live on a military base.
We asked Congressman Taylor what he learned on that front.
“I asked Admiral Scorby this specific question 'have you guys done anything after this incident to make sure people have a heightened sense of awareness and are more alert,’” he described. “He said yes, that he had disseminated messages through the commanders.”
That same message of "see something, say something" is at the heart of new legislation Taylor is considering. A potential "Ashanti Alert" would be similar to an "Amber Alert," but for missing adults.
“Perhaps we'll prevent something in the future in terms of buying time or closing the time window if someone gets kidnapped,” the former Navy SEAL said.
Now, Taylor hopes Ashanti's parents know he took their concerns up the chain of command, but he explained when a tragedy like this happens, it is difficult to accept the reality that a 100% secure facility is not always a possibility.
We asked Taylor now that he has the bigger picture, if he is comfortable with the totality of the security on those bases.
“I am,” he responded.