UPDATE: Missouri National Guard still on alert for possible gang retaliation

Saturday, September 24, 2011 | 5:14 p.m. CDT; updated 11:57 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 24, 2011

COLUMBIA — Missouri National Guard soldiers and airmen were still on "alert" Saturday afternoon to "avoid wearing a military uniform in public" because of a "direct threat" in retaliation to a gang-related shooting around Fort Sill, Okla., earlier in the week.

The cautionary warning  was issued Friday. According to an internal memo leaked to the Columbia Missourian, "soldiers ... shot Crips gang members; in retaliation Crips has asked its members to shoot any soldiers on sight."

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Crips is a collection of gangs throughout the U.S. with an estimated membership between 30,000 and 35,000 operating out of 221 cities in 41 states. Missouri is one of those states.

Lt. Col. Levon E. Cumpton, who issued the memo, said the message "came out through Army channels"; Fort Sill is an Army base in Lawton, Okla. He called the action a "precautionary measure."

According to Cumpton's memo, National Guard troops were instructed not to "wear a military uniform out for evening dining, shopping, and other personal matters." Full-time members were cautioned to "consider commuting to/from work in civilian clothes — specifically, if they need to make personal stops between home and work."

Spokesmen for the Missouri National Guard and Fort Sill declined to elaborate on the incident, saying the investigation is in the hands of the Lawton, Okla., Police Department. Yet as of Saturday afternoon, "the alert has not been rescinded," said Maj. Tammy Spicer, the public affairs officer for the Missouri National Guard.  The decision to call off the alert will come from the Joint Operations Center in Jefferson City. 

"As far as we know, and even the Lawton Police Department know," the gang’s threat is "just an unsubstantiated rumor," said Fort Sill Public Affairs Officer Keith Pannell during a phone call late Friday night.

KSWO-TV 7 News in Lawton reported two Air Force bases in Oklahoma, Tinker and Altus, issued similar orders to enlisted soldiers. The Altus Air Force Base Facebook page commented Friday night on receiving "information on a criminal threat to military members in the Lawton-Fort Sill area."

The incident that sparked the direct threat seems to be tied to a "brutal” home invasion in Lawton earlier in the week, with the four main suspects in the invasion being Fort Sill soldiers. They are believed to be responsible for shooting four people and injuring two others early Tuesday morning who, according to rumors circulating in the city, were gang members with ties to the Crips.

The Missourian was unable to reach the chief of police who is handling the case.

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jim stachowiak September 25, 2011 | 10:14 a.m.

Will the leaked memo be made public?

(Report Comment)
Ed Crusie September 26, 2011 | 3:27 a.m.

Is the US Military really going to let a civilian gang dictate what the military does or does not wear while on/off duty while off base? I would think that if we can fight a war, we certainly should be able to handle a civilian gang.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks September 26, 2011 | 7:13 a.m.

It happens Mr Crusie. The Military operates by a group in Washington telling them what to do and how to do it. This is not always the most effective or efficient way to take care of a problem. You also have common sense. You can not just mount up and head into "gang" areas and shot all the people wearing blue. And even if they allowed us to do such a thing they would just adapt and change the color or remove the bandana.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 18, 2011 | 2:32 a.m.

Acting tough for the sake of ego is dumb on its own, but it's especially dumb when those in front of whom you're acting tough care a lot less about killing you than you do about killing them.

A lot of people in the military may as well still be kids, nevermind that they have families and friends that care about them. Furthermore, I doubt that your average person in the military has developed the same level of "killer instinct" that these gangsters have. Killing should be (in theory) the last resort for someone in the military, whereas it's par for the course (and even expected) in the gang circles. I didn't have any success digging up statistics on the matter, but I highly suspect that there's a higher incidence of PTSD among military personnel than among gang members; death tends not to be a big deal when you grow up around it, after all.

It's bad enough that so many soldiers already died at war. There's no reason to have more of them die at the hands of thugs simply because "we're the US military, dangit." Dying in combat at least served a purpose; dying over hurt feelings to maintain your image accomplishes nothing. So yeah, for once I agree with the higher-ups.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 18, 2011 | 2:54 p.m.

Four soldiers killed 4 and wounded 2 Crips?

Something happened before this, methinks.

Sounds like a bit of Oklahoma vigilante justice happenin'.

Just guessin'.

(Report Comment)

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