March 25, 2013 9:57:18 AM
CORINTH -- A Marine who was shot to death at a Virginia base was described as a warm-hearted country boy from the South who grew up in the Pentecostal church and even preached a few times.
Jacob Wooley, 23, of Mississippi, was killed on Thursday by Sgt. Eusebio Lopez at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia, military officials said. Lopez also shot 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Sara Castromata to death before he killed himself.
The three worked at a school that tests Marines who want to become officers, but officials have not released their relationship or a motive for the shooting. Their bodies were found in the Taylor Hall barracks, where those who work at the school live. The candidates for officer live elsewhere on base.
Tiffany Wood said she met Wooley when they were teens.
"I'm just so confused. Jacob had no enemies. He was such a sweetheart," she said.
Wood said they went to the same schools in the small town of Corinth, in northeast Mississippi near the Tennessee state line.
"He was real goofy, too, like he always wanted everybody to smile. If he could lighten a situation he would," she said. "You couldn't stay mad at him. He would say something to make you laugh or make you grin."
Before joining the Marines, he had preached a few times at Central Pentecostal Church, she said. "He just had a real big heart. He would help anybody that he could."
Wooley was a field radio operator. He worked at the school, which is known for its grueling 10-week program that evaluates Marines on physical stamina, intelligence and leadership.
Lopez, of Pacifica, Calif., was an instructor there whose specialty was machine gunner. Castromata, of Oakley, Calif., was a warehouse clerk.
Wooley had always wanted to be a Marine. He joined in February 2010.
"He loved the Marines. I have friends that have joined and they hate it. But it was his passion to help people," Wood said.
Lance Cpl. Ian Mills, who served with Wooley on the Japanese island of Okinawa, said they remained close despite being assigned to different bases.
"Everybody hated Oki because they missed their families, but he was the guy who made us a family," said Mills, now at Twentynine Palms in California. "He brought us all together. He was always so loving and caring about everybody."
Cpl. Josh Darling said he grew up in Tennessee about 40 minutes from Wooley's hometown. He said Wooley was athletic, smart and liked to sing country music.
"He was fun, never had problems with anybody. Real laid back. Real nice guy," Darling said.
Wooley's great-aunt Jean Luker said after high school, Wooley went to Northeast Mississippi Community College and then the Marines.
"He was a very sweet young man," she said.