Navy sailor claims self-defense in shooting death of fellow service member

Dalen O. Spence

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A U.S. Navy sailor accused of killing another active duty military member told police he was defending himself at the time of the shooting, according to court records. 

Twenty-three-year-old Donald Thorington was shot in the chest and stomach outside of his Atlanta Avenue home on May 5 during an argument. Dalen O. Spence, 21, is accused of shooting and killing Thorington, court documents state.

Spence and Thorington were both active duty Navy sailors. Spence was assigned to the USS George H.W. Bush, and Thorington was assigned to the USS George Washington. 

Spence, an aviation ordnanceman airman who is originally from North Carolina, enlisted on March 1, 2017. Thorington, a machinist’s mate nuclear 3rd Class, was originally from New York and enlisted on Jan. 5, 2015.

Thorington’s roommates told police that the shooting happened after an argument became physical at the Atlanta Avenue home. Witnesses told police that both sides of the fight were yelling and throwing punches, and that Thorington was arguing with a specific person, according to court documents. 

10 On Your Side is not naming the person who was arguing with Thorington because they have not been charged with a crime in connection to his death. 

Thorington told the man he was arguing with to “come to him,” at which point Spence stepped in front of the other man and pulled his gun out of his holster. Thorington asked him, “What are you going to do with that gun?” and then grabbed Spence by the neck, court documents state. 

That’s when Spence allegedly shot Thorington twice with a semi-automatic pistol. Spence told police he was protecting himself, according to court documents. 

Witnesses told police that Thorington was not armed with weapons at the time of the argument or shooting. 

Police searched Spence’s Norfolk apartment in the 500 block of 24th Street and found four semi-automatic pistols, a Glock 26, gun parts, a plastic holster, ammo, gun boxes, and magazines with bullets, court documents state. 

They also found $1,489 in cash, a digital scale, more than 120 grams of marijuana, 25 grams of an unknown white powder, and two extended release capsules of oxycodone, according to court documents. 

Spence, 21, is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection to Thorington’s death. He is scheduled to appear in Portsmouth General District Court on Friday. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the suspect and victim were both assigned to the same ship. They were assigned to separate ships. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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