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Update: Portsmouth Stabbing Suspect In Custody

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Authorities are searching for Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell in connection with a Friday Stabbing. US Navy Handout Photo

Authorities are searching for Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell in connection with a Friday Stabbing. US Navy Handout Photo

The suspect in a Friday morning stabbing near a naval hospital in Portsmouth, Va. is in custody, Navy officials said during an afternoon news conference.

Officials arrested Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell, 26, in connection with the stabbing of another sailor at the Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads/Portsmouth Annex.

He was apprehended in Virginia Beach without incident.

The victim, Justin Powell, has left surgery but is still in critical condition.

“The stabbing occurred in front of the installation’s Navy Exchange approx. 8:30 this morning. The [Naval Exchange] is located in a separate building outside of the hospital. The victim was transported to the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth with critical injuries,” according to a statement from Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads.

The sailors — who knew each other — entered into an altercation in front of the exchange, which led to the stabbing, said Capt. Jake Johansson, commander of Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads.


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“Harwell is from Opelika, Ala., according to his two Facebook pages,” reported The Virginian Pilot.
“He studied at Opelika High School and Trenholm State Technical College. He lists his work as electronics in the Navy. He has been in the Navy since 2010. One page says he lives in Norfolk, the other says Virginia Beach.”

The Navy has operated a hospital at the location since 1827. The medical center oversees about 4,300 sailors and civilian employees “in locations from Yorktown to Chesapeake to deliver healthcare to the 420,000 active duty members, family members and retirees living in Hampton Roads,” according to information from the Navy.

Categories: Military Personnel, News & Analysis, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute.
He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. In his role he covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Sam is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Military Institute.

  • Brendan Smith

    We don’t have enough people in the world that want to kill us, now Sailors are fighting and stabbing each other? Oh, joy. Wake up young men. You only have each other in the big bad world. It doesn’t get easier when you get out either. Just look at the VA mess. The only people who will take care of Veterans, are fellow Veterans.