Navy shoots down rumor officer will be charged for using gun during terror attack — for now

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A man mourns at a temporary memorial site outside the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., that was attacked by a terrorist in July.

Responding to a wave of social media criticism over accusations that the Navy plans to bring charges against an officer who fired a gun during the terrorist attack on a Tennessee Navy operations center in July, the Navy on Monday said the stories aren’t true.

And if public opinion is any guide, they better stay that way.

“Stories of Navy personnel being charged with an offense are not true,” a Navy statement said. “There is still a long way to go in reviewing the facts of this tragic incident, but at this time we can confirm no service member has been charged with an offense.”

The story about charges being brought against Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White – for carrying an unauthorized firearm he used to shoot back at gunman Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez during the July 16 attack – took on a life of their own when former Congressman Allen West posted a column Friday claiming he had received a text message from a source he didn’t identify confirming that charges were in the offing.

Four Marines and a Navy sailor were killed in two attacks that day on a military recruitment center and the Navy operations center in Chattaooga. The terrorist was also killed.

“White exemplifies the highest and finest of character and tradition of the US Navy,” West wrote in the column. “Those who would bring charges against him are indeed cowards and need be exposed.”

While that’s no doubt true, the reaction to the story seems to have gotten ahead of the facts in the case.

Here’s a sample of what the rumors inspired.

If true, it would be un-freaking real.

For Lt. Cmdr. White’s sake, for the Navy’s sake — for the country’s sake — it better not be.

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