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Congressman says gay sailor's death is a possible hate crime [Updated]

July 2, 2009 | 10:10 am


Rep. Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista) said today that he has asked the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps to investigate whether the killing of a sailor, who was gay, at Camp Pendleton was a hate crime.

Filner, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he wanted a complete investigation of circumstances surrounding the death of Seaman August Provost, 29, of Houston. Provost's body was found about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday in a guard shack on the western edge of the sprawling base.

Gay leaders in San Diego had asked Filner to intervene. Nicole Murray-Ramirez, chairman of the San Diego Human Relations Commission, said Provost's family believes the sailor had been harassed by other personnel on the base.

Filner said initial indications are that Provost was shot and his body burned. He said his committee also will investigate the case.

[Updated 7:20 p.m.: In a late afternoon news conference, Navy officials today promised a thorough investigation into the killing. They said, however, that there was no evidence it was a hate crime. A sailor who is considered to be a person of interest remains in the brig. Another sailor, who was initially considered a person of interest, has been released.]

Provost's partner found out about the death from a newspaper reporter, Murray-Ramirez said.

The military has said that a "person of interest" is in the brig at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. No information has been released about a possible motive.

"We respect the military, but we want to ensure that there is full disclosure, to see if this was a hate crime," Murray-Ramirez said. "A member of our community has been killed."

Provost was assigned to a unit on the base that takes combat Marines ashore in high-speed craft.

—Tony Perry

Photo: Rep. Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista) at a campaign rally in 2006.

Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times