Suspect in gay sailor's death commits suicide

Sun. August 2, 2009 12:00 AM by

The seaman being held in the brig of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton charged with the death of a gay sailor was found unresponsive Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Petty Officer Jonathan Campos was charged last month with the death of August Provost, a gay sailor found dead on June 30 in a Camp Pendleton guard shack near San Diego.

Campos was pronounced dead at 1:15PM on Friday. A military news release listed the cause of death as self-inflicted asphyxiation.

Campos was taken into custody on July 1 but military prosecutors officially charged with him the death of Provost last week.

Provost of Houston, Texas was found dead about 3:30AM on June 30, a Tuesday.

"While allegedly attempting to gain access to the ACU FIVE compound Campos encountered Seaman Provost at the sentry station at which point Campos allegedly shot him multiple times," said Captain Matt Brown, a Navy spokesman for Navy Region Southwest, in announcing the charges last week. "In an apparent effort to conceal evidence after Seaman Provost was shot, Campos allegedly took the sentry's firearm, and then set fire to the guard shack."

The murder charge was the most serious charge leveled against the seaman. The Navy also charged Campos, 32, with arson, unlawful entry, theft of military property and wrongful possession of a firearm, among other charges.

The Navy insists there is no evidence to suggest that Provost was a victim of an anti-gay hate crime: "No information has been gathered to date to support allegations of a hate crime," Brown said. Several family members have said that Provost had complained about being harassed by fellow sailors because he was gay, and pointed out that he likely remained silent to avoid tripping over the Navy's ban on open gay service.

Campos, a decorated sailor who joined the Navy in 2001, had been involved in a rash of criminal activity, including a June 13 break-in of a sailor's residence where he stole an Xbox and the .45-caliber pistol used to kill Provost, a June 20 drunk driving arrest, and a July 1 solicitation to murder another active-duty sailor, Brown said.

"We must remember that the Navy lost a well-respected sailor who was standing his assigned watch in his appointed place of duty," Brown said. "Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of Seaman Provost, and we will continue to provide support and assistance to the family."

Provost joined the Navy in March 2008, after completing three years of college, to help finance his education. He was studying to become an architectural engineer.

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