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Sailor charged with murder in Camp Pendleton shooting

The Navy says that although the victim, another sailor, was gay, there was no indication that the slaying was a hate crime.

July 24, 2009|Tony Perry

SAN DIEGO — A 32-year-old sailor has been charged with murder in the shooting of a fellow seaman who was standing guard at Camp Pendleton.

But the Navy said there was no indication that the killing was a hate crime. The victim, Seaman August Provost of Houston, was gay.

Officials said Provost, 29, was standing guard when Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Campos of Lancaster allegedly tried to enter the base to commit violence. He was facing discipline for a drunk-driving arrest in Imperial Beach.

Campos now faces charges that include arson, burglary of a San Diego home, stealing military property, drug possession and attempting to hire a civilian to kill another sailor.

Navy officials said that although Provost and Campos were in the same command at Camp Pendleton, there is no indication that the two knew each other or that Campos targeted Provost for death.

Provost was found shot to death about 3 a.m. June 30 in a sentry station outside the Navy's landing craft training facility on the western edge of the sprawling base. A fire had been started at the station in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.

Leaders of San Diego's gay community immediately called on the military to investigate whether the killing was a hate crime based on Provost's sexual orientation.

The call was later endorsed by U.S. Reps. Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista), Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).

Provost was "out" to the gay community and his social media sites, but at work adhered to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Immediately after the killing, the Navy announced that a sailor was being held in the brig as a "person of interest." That sailor was later released and a second person of interest was jailed.

The Navy's initial investigation found no evidence that the killing was a hate crime, terrorist-related or due to off-base gang activity, but investigators continued to interview sailors, Marines and others who knew Provost.

Provost enlisted in 2008 and was preparing for deployment and also considering either advanced training or applying to become an officer.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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