In this Navy town, where sailors' scrapes with the law are legend, Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Donovan Gordon is involved in a beauty.

Gordon, 32, was arrested at his home here four weeks ago by U.S. marshals, acting on behalf of the Jamaican government, which wants Gordon on murder charges for shooting two men with an Uzi submachine gun during that country's violent national election in October 1980.

According to Gordon, who has been unable to make $100,000 bail as he awaits an extradition hearing later this month, his sin was not murder, but politics. If he is sent back to Kingston, he said in an interview, he will never see the inside of a courtroom.

"They don't want me before the court," he said. "I will never get to court. I think I would be killed."

A police bodyguard to Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley when the killings occurred, Gordon joined the U.S. Navy in May 1981, about six months after Manley was ousted from power in the bloodiest election in Jamaican history. Now the Jamaican government -- in the hands of Manley's rivals -- wants Gordon back.

Jamaican officials have denied they are seeking political revenge.

"It's a nightmare," said Gordon's wife, Marcia, who has been working the midnight shift at a factory here to support herself and the couple's two young children. "I can't believe it's real. It was just another policeman doing his job, in my view."

The case is a legacy of Kingston's Dodge City era in the late 1970s, when gunbattles between political factions flared daily in the island's streets as the election neared. Gordon acknowledges shooting the two men, who he said fired on his police patrol as it cleared roadblocks in Kingston for Manley's motorcade on Oct. 8, 1980.

He questions, however, why Jamaican authorities waited five years to seek his extradition. "There is a cold trail of defense," he said last week in an interview at the jail in neighboring Virginia Beach. "There's nobody for me to turn to. It's impossible."

Gordon's lawyers, Robert J. Haddad of Virginia Beach, John Zwerling of Alexandria and Leonard Boudin of New York, who is acting as an adviser at Manley's request, say they believe otherwise.

Despite court papers stating that Gordon "fled" Jamaica in 1980, the defense attorneys argue that U.S. naval investigators interrogated Gordon the next year on an unrelated matter and he voluntarily disclosed information about the shooting.

Gordon, they said, was permitted to remain in the Navy and was recently okayed for reenlistment.

Last week the attorneys persuaded Magistrate Rebecca Smith to review federal prosecutors' files to determine whether U.S. investigators contacted the Jamaican government about Gordon at any time since 1980.

If so, said Haddad, that evidence would help undercut Jamaican charges that Gordon was a fugitive whose whereabouts were unknown.

Meanwhile, Gordon remains in jail, a bright orange prisoner's jumpsuit stretched over his 6 feet 5 inch frame, his $992 monthly Navy salary cut off because he is technically on an unauthorized absence from his ship, the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land.

He seems cut off, too, from his former life, when he was protecting cabinet officers of Manley's Socialist government, once guarding Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on a visit to the island, and finally guarding Manley himself during the country's deepening political violence.

In one 1979 incident, Gordon said he accompanied a deputy minister in Kingston when an angry crowd gathered. "People started rushing toward us," he said. "We started to hurry away on foot. Bottles were hitting the car. Stones were hitting the car. Everybody was scared out of his wits.

"I saw a man kneel down with a gun and fire. Later we found a bullet hole in the car door."

Gordon said he fired "a couple of shots in the air, four rounds in rapid succession" to halt the crowd.

Subsequently, according to former finance minister R. Hugh Small, who has testified on Gordon's behalf here, Gordon was "singled out" by Manley's opponents as a security officer who had overstepped his duties and become a political activist.

Gordon said he began receiving death threats.

On the day of Manley's motorcade in 1980, Gordon said his patrol encountered first one roadblock in the Duhaney Park section of Kingston, then another. "Roadblocks often meant ambush, often enough you knew not to fool around," he said.

When two men opened fire on the black unmarked police car from behind a four-foot wall, said Gordon, he unleashed the Uzi.

"I opened fire as they turned around. They were taking off," he said. "It just happens. Your life is on the line, you better do something about it. It's no time for meditating. I had to do what I had to do."

Gordon said that although he reported the incident, no inquiry resulted and he was allowed to emigrate a month later to the United States.

Jamaican authorities charged last month that the two shooting victims were unarmed, although a .38-caliber handgun that Gordon said he took from one of the alleged assailants is still in police custody, according to court papers.

"It was very dangerous -- for every policeman," Gordon's wife, Marcia, said. "People were being killed because they voted for the wrong party. . . . It was a war."