One of the two Grand Force Air Force Base personnel who died by gunfire early Monday, June 1, is a woman from Arizona who only recently joined the Air Force. Her parents say she is a victim of domestic abuse.
Natasha Aposhian died in the incident, which occurred at 4:30 a.m. at the base, located 16 miles west of Grand Forks. The other person involved has not yet been identified.
Aposhian's identity was confirmed Tuesday morning by her family in Arizona.
"We’re torn apart by the loss of our daughter to a senseless act of domestic violence," said a joint statement from her parents, Brian Murray and Megan Aposhian, provided to the Herald. "Natasha had recently joined the Air Force and was just starting to embark on a career serving her country. It’s a tragedy she won’t get to fulfill her hopes and dreams. We ask that you pray for her, our family and the countless victims of these crimes.”
The Air Force has not confirmed Aposhian's identity, nor has it confirmed that she was the victim of domestic abuse.
News and official details of the incident are still scant. Col. Cameron Pringle, commander of the base, addressed the media and answered questions during a brief press conference outside of the base's main gate late Monday morning, but no further information has come from the Air Force.
Tuesday, Grand Forks Air Force Base spokeswoman Lea Greene said it's Air Force policy to wait at least 24 hours after next-of-kin notification – and not necessarily from the time of the event – to announce identities involved in fatal incidents. That time frame allows families appropriate time to process their grief, she said.
The Air Force initially announced the incident in a statement to the media sent shortly after 8:30 Monday morning, noting that a "shooting incident" resulted in the deaths of two active-duty members of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing. Emergency services from the base responded to the incident and shortly thereafter declared it contained. The statement from the Air Force also said there was no further to risk other personnel.
During the Monday morning press conference, Col. Pringle said he considered the base safe and secure, but he provided few further details.
The Herald asked if it's typical that anyone would have a firearm in the dormitory at 4:30 a.m.
"Our dormitories are safe. We shouldn't worry about the condition of the dormitories," he said. "Our airmen are well cared for and provided with good supervision, and I'm pretty confident our leadership team is going to take care of all of our airmen in the dorms. We'll certainly make sure we're looking into their safety as part of this.
"Again, I think the details of the incident, in particular to that aspect, we have to leave until the investigation is complete," he said.
Aposhian, of Phoenix, completed her basic military training in February, according to her family. Grand Forks Air Force Base was her first assignment.
"Our community has been through a lot in recent days and weeks and months," said Pringle, likely acknowledging a deadly incident the week before that saw a Grand Forks Police officer die and a sheriff's deputy wounded during what started as a routine assignment to serve eviction papers at a local apartment. "But we have a strong community. We'll get through this."
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations will lead the investigation into Monday's base shooting, said Grand Forks County Sheriff's Capt. Joel Lloyd, adding the sheriff's office also responded to the shooting Monday morning, and now has two investigators assigned to assist the AFOSI in the investigation.