Surgeon: Stabbing victim is “in great condition”

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Navy officials and the family of Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Powell, victim of an on-base stabbing Friday, provided an update on his condition Monday afternoon at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, where he is receiving care.

“I can say this morning with good confidence that he is in great condition; he looks wonderful. He is awake, he is able to communicate. He is off the breathing machine and is breathing on his own,” said hospital surgeon Capt. Angela Earley.

Powell was stabbed multiple times while at the barracks next to the Navy Exchange. Capt. Earley was the lead surgeon for Powell and organized a team of 33 medical personnel to provide him medical attention. She said his most life-threatening injury was the cut across his neck.

“If he hadn’t been so close to medical care, he could have died from that injury,” she said.

Powell underwent a tracheotomy, which is a surgical procedure where an incision is made on the neck to get a direct airway through the trachea. Earley said she does not know if Powell will be able to speak again.

Powell’s wife Tina was also in attendance at Monday’s news conference. She stepped up to the podium and reflected on how close she came to losing him.

“First, I want to say this is a miracle that my husband is here with me today,” Powell said. “I thank God. I put all my worries into God’s hands. I praise God. He played a part in all this … My husband is doing great. He told me this morning that his love for me, our daughter … got him through this.”

Documents: Affidavit and Criminal Complaint

A base spokeswoman said fire and EMS were called to the scene outside the Exchange at 8:33 a.m. She said the perimeter of the base was on lockdown at 8:35 a.m. and the search for the suspect began. She could not provide an exact time of when the stabbing occurred.

Wilbur Garrett Harwell was taken into custody near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront around 5 p.m. Friday. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is handling this case.

Click on the video player on this page to watch the entire Monday afternoon news conference.

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