Jeffrey Savage was identified as the gunman in the Norfolk Naval Station shooting that left Petty Officer Mark Mayo and other sailor wounded.
Savage, 35, of Portsmouth, Virginia, didn’t serve in the navy.
His motivation for storming the destroyer Mahan on Monday night before being killed is unclear, two sources told the Navy Times.
He used transportation worker credentials to enter the station around 11:20 p.m.
He stripped a sailor of her weapon, and allegedly used the gun to fire at Mayo, who blocked the sailor from being shot and shot back at Savage.
Court records show Savage once faced a murder charge in North Carolina but ended up pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was out of prison less than two years later.
Savage was charged in the 2005 shooting death of Maurice Griffin in Charlotte. They were driving from Georgia to Virginia when they fought over a gun. Savage shot Griffin and left his body on the roadside.
Court records say prosecutors planned to seek the death penalty against him if he didn’t settle the case with a guilty plea. Savage entered a guilty plea in 2008 and was released from prison at the end of 2009.
Including jail, he was behind bars less than six years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report