NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The detailed criminal complaint against Eric Brown in the kidnapping case of Ashanti Billie revealed possible security issues at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek - Fort Story.
13News Now took those concerns to Congressman Scott Taylor, whose district includes the Naval base.
At the very beginning of our interview, Rep. Taylor put simply what a lot of people have told us they are feeling since this story broke. He said "it's concerning, and it should be to anyone, that the kidnap, in fact, happened on the base."
“You see it on TV,” Ashanti’s mother said Thursday morning. “It's something a drama or movie is made out of, it's not real life.”
This real life case, is bringing about some real life fears.
We asked Congressman Scott Taylor, who spent time on the base when he served on as a Navy SEAL, if an incident like this brings up the need for a broader conversation about security on our Naval bases.
“I do believe we should take every precaution necessary and looking at lessons learned and looking if there are any gaps in training or any gaps in policy that can help prevent something like this ,” he said.
Just about every one of the fifteen pages of the criminal complaint against Eric Brown brings another question.
One of them was asked by Ashanti Billie's father, Thursday morning.
“How is it that this guy was able to roam around base,” he questioned.
The criminal complaint says Brown had access to the base because he is a military retiree.
Retirees are issued a “uniformed services ID card.” Other retirees told 13News Now it doesn't expire until you're 65. So for Brown, that's about 26 years he could come and go freely.
We asked Taylor while obviously retirees earn that right, if there should be a check-in every once in a while to make sure things are still ok.
“When you're talking about taking away people's privileges for a bad actor, I would be cautious and certainly resistant to that,” he responded. “I do think what should be looked at is the reporting. So, let's say for example a guy is a civilian, he's a military retiree, is convicted of some domestic violence or something like that. Perhaps there should be some data sharing there.”
According to court records, Brown was on the radar of some people on the base.
In fact, when 13News Now broke news of this arrest and put Brown's mugshot on air, some people said they recognized him from the bases in our area.
We wanted to know if someone who could have actually done something about it, like the military police officers or other security personnel, should have noticed, as well.
“It's easy to look at that in retrospect and say that,” Taylor answered. “Listen, if you're in the security profession, you should have your head on a swivel, you should see things that may look out of place.”
The complaint also notes Brown is homeless and there's no evidence he left the base for four days. It says he spent time at the base laundromat and sleeping inside the base gym.
Taylor said he isn’t sure if there is a policy about a homeless person hanging out or living on a base, but will look into that.
The Congressman is already scheduled to have a briefing with the Navy this month. Concerns 13News Now raised about the grainy surveillance video contributed to scheduling that meeting.
Now, Taylor said he will carefully study the criminal complaint, to see if there are any other issues that need to be addressed then.
13News Now also took these questions, as well as the Billie family's concerns, to the Navy.
A Navy spokesperson said they are thankful the FBI made an arrest and that it brings some comfort to the Billie family.
In regards to the family's security concerns, the Navy said they have never received complaints about Brown at any military base. The spokesperson told 13News Now people work 24 hours a day, including a mixture of retirees, actives, etc.
They added that if a guy was homeless, like the FBI believed Brown to be, he could just look like anyone else who might actually belong on base. However, Brown is a retired petty officer so he has access to base.
The spokesperson said if people saw Brown doing anything suspicious, they should've reported it.
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