The family of Navy Seaman August Provost III are blaming the military for the death of the 29-year-old, who was found shot dead, execution style, while standing duty at a guard station overnight. “He went to the Navy to serve and protect,” says Provost’s aunt Rose Roy, who insists his murder was because of his race or sexuality. “That phrase is just stupid because it tells them they have no one to speak to.” The Navy maintains there’s no evidence of a hate crime (beyond Provost telling his family he was being harassed on base, apparently). And figuring out whether Provost was murdered because he was black or gay might come down only to the words of the “person of interest” the Navy has in custody.
Honorably, the Navy appears to be conducting a full investigation into the matter and not trying to duck the politically treacherous territory of bias-based crimes; it helps California’s U.S. Rep. Bob Filner is demanding as much. In the meantime, a vigil is planned for Friday at Camp Pendelton, though Provost’s family won’t get much solace from Navy Capt. Matt Brown’s most recent words: “What I can tell you, unequivocally at this point, based on the preliminary information that we have, is that regardless of the person standing watch in that sentry station, this crime would have most likely been carried out in the same way. In other words, another sailor could have been on that post and would have been the victim of this crime.”