T. Rees Shapiro, Martin Weil and Annie Gowen, Washington Post
Special to In Homeland Security
The two Marines allegedly killed by a third last week at Quantico were identified Saturday night as Cpl. Jacob Wooley, 23, of Guntown, Miss., and Lance Cpl. Sara Castromata, 19, of Oakley, Calif.
They were allegedly shot to death by Sgt. Eusebio Lopez, 25, of Pacifica, Calif., a spokesman for the Marine base at Quantico said in a statement.
The incident developed Thursday night at the Officer Candidate School at Quantico when authorities said a male Marine was killed first, and a female Marine next, before the assailant killed himself.
A senior military official at the Pentagon, speaking on the condition of anonymity, has said that the shootings may have stemmed from a romantic entanglement.
The news release issued Saturday night said the base is “still unable to answer many questions” about the shootings because the incident remains under investigation.
All three of those who died were assigned to the Officer Candidate School, the news release said.
Earlier Saturday, friends and family in Mississippi mourned Wooley’s loss.
One classmate described him as “loud and hilarious,” but friends in Corinth, Miss., said he also had a deeply religious streak
In high school, he entertained the idea of becoming a preacher and spoke out at his family church, Central Pentecostal in Corinth, the classmate said.
“He was never into anything that would cause a problem. He was right raised with a family that believes in the Lord,” said his great-aunt, Jean Luker. “All the young people loved him and thought of him as a fine person. I guess he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, is what it sounds like.”
The release said he was a field radio operator who joined the corps three years ago and held at least five medals, ribbons and commendations. His listed hometown is in northeastern Mississippi.
Castromata served as a warehouse clerk, the release said. It said she joined the Marines about 16 months ago and held three medals. Oakley, her listed hometown, is in the San Francisco Bay area.
Before the announcement that labeled Lopez as the alleged assailant, he was identified Saturday as one of those killed. Lopez was an instructor at the base’s Officer Candidate School, which trains those seeking to become second lieutenants.
According to his great-grandfather, 82, also named Eusebio Lopez, the Marine had served a tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. He also participated in anti-piracy missions at sea. He had been posted to Quantico for about a year, said the elder Lopez, of Pacifica, Calif.
The release from Quantico said he was a tactics instructor whose military occupational specialty was as a machine gunner. He had joined the Marines in 2006 and held at least 11 medals, ribbons and commendations.
On Friday, Col. David W. Maxwell, the base commander, said the shooting occurred inside Taylor Hall, a barracks for members of the Officer Candidate School staff.
The Marine news release said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is the lead investigative agency. NCIS is a federal law enforcement agency that investigates serious offenses affecting the Navy and Marine Corps. NCIS made the identification of Lopez as the alleged shooter, the release said.
Marine Corps Base Quantico, known as the “Crossroads of the Marine Corps,” borders the Potomac River about 30 miles southwest of Washington in Prince William County.
The base is also home to the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration training academies and HMX-1, the president’s helicopter transport unit.
At OCS, as the three-month program is known, experienced enlisted Marines help create platoon leaders through physically and mentally rigorous training.
All officer candidates on base were accounted for, Maxwell said. Chaplains were available.
In the release, Maxwell said, “We send our prayers and condolences to the families, fellow Marines and friends of the Marines” lost “in this tragic incident.”
On Friday, Marines got haircuts at Charlie’s Barber Shop in downtown Quantico, where Jack Scott, 72, handles clippers.
“I’m really shocked at this,” said Scott, a resident of the area since the 1970s. “And it’s sad. You lost three Marines. . . . We’re losing enough over in Afghanistan without killing each other.”
Jeremy Borden and Eddy Palanzo contributed to this report.