Tennessee Army National Guard recruiter Amos Patton was in federal court Friday in Downtown Memphis, accused of shooting three of his superiors at a National Guard armory in Millington after he was told he would be relieved of duty and dismissed from active service.
Patton, who is facing assault and weapons charges, was wearing an orange jumpsuit. His hands and legs were shackled.
Federal Magistrate Diane Vescovo explained the charges, appointed an attorney and ordered Patton be held without bond. Vescovo told Patton he is charged with committing assaults within the maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States and carrying a weapon during a federal crime of violence.
The 42-year-old sergeant first class was ordered to the armory north of Memphis Thursday, where he was told that he was being relieved of duty, reduced in rank and recommended for removal from active reserve, U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III said at a Friday news conference.
Following the meeting, Patton was ordered to return government equipment that was in his vehicle outside the building, the complaint said. Patton had a "fanny pack" with him when he returned. When Patton tried to access the pack, one Guardsman yelled "gun," the complaint says.
Patton then opened fire, hitting three Guardsmen, wrote FBI Special Agent Matthew Ross.
According to the criminal complaint a guardsman was able to subdue Patton when he pulled the gun.
Patton shot three of his superiors, Maj. William J. Crawford, Sgt. Maj. Ricky R. McKenzie, and Lt. Col. Hunter Belcher. Major General Terry "Max" Haston, Adjutant General of Tennessee's National Guard flew from Nashville to Millington Thursday and visited the three guardsmen at The MED in Memphis.
Lt. Col. Belcher was reported to have been grazed by a bullet just below the right knee during Thursday's incident. Another round from the weapon went through a backpack he was wearing, but did not inflict any injuries.
One of the other two guardsmen was shot in the lower leg and the other in the foot.
The Tennessee National Guard said in a statement all three injured guardsmen were treated and released from the hospital.
"It could have been far worse that it was, but we have some very attentive National Guard personnel that were able to take control of the situation and prevent a huge tragedy," said A. Todd McCall, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
McCall and Stanton spoke at news conference Friday after the court hearing Friday.
Patton is charged with assault and use of a firearm in relation to a federal crime of violence. If convicted he could face more than 20 years in prison.
"We did look at the breadth of charges and for now with the information that we have now. We believe the charges are appropriate," Stanton said.
Patton's wife and daughter were in the front row of the courtroom. They declined to comment after the hearing. The 42-year-old lives in Cordova. Patton's court appointed attorney also declined comment.
Patton joined the National Guard in 1999. He served as an armorer, a supply sergeant and a recruiter according to a Tennessee National Guard spokesman.
Patton will be back in court Wednesday, Oct. 30, for a detention hearing.
If Patton is convicted he could receive up to 20 years for the assault charge and could receive a minimum of 10 years for the firearms charge, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. There is no parole in the federal system.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and the NCIS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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