Sailor Arrested for Possessing 20 Concussion Grenades Stolen from Navy Destroyer
On Tuesday morning, a sailor was arrested on suspicion of possessing 20 stolen grenades last seen on the Pinckney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile Navy destroyer. Some of the military-grade explosive devices were located in a standard-issue military backpack that was abandoned along a freeway. The bag had a handwritten name on an inside tag.
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Aaron A. Booker has been charged with one count of possession of stolen explosives and was arrested by agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
He was taken into custody in Great Lakes, Illinois, where Booker is currently stationed.
The concussion grenades were part of a shipment to the Pinckney that arrived on January 20, 2016, while the vessel was at port at Naval Base San Diego.
The explosives were placed in a secure locker for storage. Access to the locker was limited to gunner’s mates who were responsible for monitoring the temperature of the unit, according to a report by Military.com.
Booker, 31, was assigned to the Pinckney at the time the grenades were discovered to be missing and, during interviews conducted by NCIS after the February 2017 inventory report indicating the explosives were not present, some sailors stated that Booker was upset with his chain of command over a prior disciplinary manner.
At the time of the incident, Booker was transferring to his new duty station in Great Lakes. During a March 2017 interview with NCIS, he denied being in possession of the grenades, or even seeing them.
On April 20, 2017, an off-duty Orange County sheriff’s deputy spotted a backpack resting against a guardrail on Interstate 15. The bag contained 18 of the missing grenades as well as a tag with “GM2 Booker” handwritten on it.
Booker confirmed the bag was his and that he had driven along that route, but stated that the backpack had been stolen approximately one year ago.
He also then admitted to having seen the missing explosives and that he trained on their use.
A day later, Booker contacted an NCIS agent saying that he had made some inquiries into the two missing grenades and told agents to look in Tijuana, Mexico for the missing explosives. He claimed that his former motorcycle club had “cartel” connections and that the cartel had requested the grenades be stolen.
Booker continued to deny stealing the concussion grenades, though a search of his phone found a Google search was conducted regarding the devices on January 25, 2017, and that he watched a YouTube video about the explosives followed by another Google search.