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U.S. National Guard shooting suspect indicted in Tennessee

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A National Guard recruiter accused of wounding three superiors and threatening a fourth after he was relieved of duty was indicted Wednesday on nine federal charges, including attempting to kill U.S. employees.

Sergeant First Class Amos Patton, 42, also faces four counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one of using and carrying a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun in relation to a crime of violence, prosecutors said. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Patton was accused of opening fire at a National Guard recruiting center next to a U.S. Navy base near Memphis on Thursday after he was told he was being relieved of duty due to unspecified misconduct. It had also been recommended that he be reduced in rank and dismissed from the active Guard reserve.

Major William Crawford was shot in the leg, Sergeant Major Ricky McKenzie in the foot and Lieutenant Colonel Hunter Belcher was grazed, National Guard spokesman Randy Harris said. Command Sergeant Major Christopher Crawford escaped uninjured.

The shooting happened inside a recruiting center in a National Guard armory in Millington, Tennessee, which is about 17 miles north of Memphis.

Patton's superiors had told him to retrieve government equipment thought to be in his government-assigned car parked outside the recruiting center, FBI Special Agent Matthew Ross said in an affidavit.

Patton returned with a "fanny pack" and when he tried to access it, one of the guardsmen shouted "gun." Patton was said to have fired as a senior noncommissioned officer tried to subdue him. He was stopped outside the building and the handgun recovered.

Patton is to be held in jail until the trial, according to court records. His arraignment was scheduled for November 13.

If convicted, Patton could face up to 20 years in prison on each of the eight charges of attempting to kill the guardsmen and assault with a deadly weapon. He could get up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the firearms charge.

The incident took place just over a month after a contract worker opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard on September 16, killing 12 people before being shot dead by police.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by David Bailey and Jackie Frank)

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