NEW: Stabbing victim undergoes surgery, is in critical condition, captain says
NEW: He says base was locked down "as soon as we knew there was a stabbing"
An enlisted member of the U.S. Navy allegedly stabbed another at a U.S. Navy base
Captain: The suspect in the stabbing is taken into custody in Virginia Beach
After a daylong manhunt, authorities have taken into custody an enlisted man they say stabbed a fellow service member on a Virginia naval base, a U.S. Navy captain said Friday.
Capt. Michael “Jake” Johannson, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, announced that the suspect – Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell – was apprehended “without incident” in Virginia Beach.
The Navy captain did not detail how Harwell traveled the 20 miles east from where the stabbing occurred at the Portsmouth annex to Virginia Beach, though he noted he believes the suspect was alone at the time.
“It’s a good news story how it ended,” Johannson said.
But he acknowledged that things had been much worse earlier in the day, starting with a stabbing around 8:30 a.m. in front of the private military store, or exchange, at the base.
This followed an alleged altercation between the 26-year-old Harwell and another enlisted officer, whom Johannson identified as Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Powell. Powell was “stabbed several times,” according to the Navy captain.
Navy officials – with the assistance of federal, state and local authorities – sprung into action after learning of the violent incident, both to look for Harwell and to ensure that the surrounding area was secure.
That included a major hospital there, the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, which authorities at one point indicated they would evacuate patients.
“We locked down the base as soon as we knew there was a stabbing incident,” Johannson said.
The commanding officer urged the public to send their thoughts and prayers for Powell, a Sarver, Pennsylvania, native who joined the Navy in 2007.
Johannson said early Friday evening that Powell was in critical condition at a nearby hospital after undergoing surgery.
About 4,300 military and civilian personnel work at the medical center, which is across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk.
It is the oldest continuously operated hospital in the Navy, according to its website. It serves about 420,000 military members, families and retirees in the Hampton Roads region, home to one of the largest concentrations of military power in the world.
CNN’s Andy Rose, Mary Kay Mallonee and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.