The Navy has released the identity of a 21-year-old gunner’s mate found dead late Thursday in a public park outside Sasebo Naval Base, Japan.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase Edwards, of Euless, Texas, was assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, which is homeported at Sasebo.
The cause of death is still under investigation pending the results of an autopsy, Sasebo Naval Base spokesman Aki Nichols said in a statement to Stars and Stripes on Saturday.
“Our greatest sympathies go to the family of the service member and all who are affected by this tragic incident,” he said.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase Edwards, 21, from Euless, Texas, was assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp as a gunner’s mate https://t.co/KoQ79SCxLS
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) May 11, 2019
Edwards’ body was found by police and Navy security personnel just before midnight Thursday in Sasebo’s Hirase area, according to Nagasaki prefectural police.
The Navy is cooperating fully with local police, who have jurisdiction over the investigation since the body was found off base, Nichols said.
Japanese media reported that the sailor died of an apparent gunshot wound. Nichols confirmed that Edwards had access to a secure armory as part of his job, and that a weapon was removed from there and taken off base without authorization.
“We take control of our weapons very seriously and are further investigating the incident to ensure strict compliance with internal weapons control regulations and Japanese law,” he said.
Edwards had been assigned to the Wasp since October 2016.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.
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