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Armed suspect shot at Little Rock Air Force Base gate
By Steve Bittenbender
June 15 – Little Rock Air Force Base was shut down Monday morning after someone tried to enter the installation in Jacksonville, AR. The “active threat” left one person in critical condition.
The incident happened around 9:15 a.m. central time at the Vandenburg gate, the main entrance for the base. For about three hours, all gates into and out of the base were closed, and the Vandenburg gate remained closed as of 1 p.m. CT.
“The safety of base personnel and their families are our utmost concern,” according to a statement posted on the Little Rock AFB Web site.
Base officials said a white man with a rifle tried to enter the installation and was subdued by at least two base security guards. The suspect was taken to University of Arkansas Medical Center in Little Rock. Base officials said he was acting alone and that the base was no longer threatened.
“As far as I saw, he engaged a street sign but did not actually come through the front gate or contact any of our barriers,” said Col. Charles E. Brown, Jr., commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and for the base, who added the he was unsure if the suspect was able to pick up speed and try to ram the gate.
According to the commander, the suspect was in the process of exiting his vehicle when the confrontation began. A female bystander was taken to another nearby hospital and released but did not suffer any injuries related to the incident.
The base is located about 20 miles north of Little Rock, in central Arkansas. The base has more than 8,000 active-duty military and civilian personnel as well as 15,000 family members who live in and around the area.
It serves as the home for the 19th Airlift Wing, which has the largest fleet of C-130 aircraft in the world. The Wing has more than 50 of the large turbo-prop planes that can land on dirt and provide support to a wide array of missions, including providing humanitarian supplies to victims of disasters and completing air drops to troops in battle.
The FBI will take over the investigation, according to Brown.
“My defenders did their job in defending the base,” he said. “The Jacksonville Police Department and Mayor (Gary) Fletcher’s great officers that he provided absolutely performed fabulously as a team today.”
Monday’s incident marked the second time in less than three months that a military installation became a target.
On March 30, one man was killed and another injured when they tried to storm the gate at Fort Meade in Maryland. According to federal officials, Ricky Shawatza Hall was driving a stolen car when he made a wrong turn on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and came upon the main gate of the facility that houses the National Security Agency.
Instead of obeying an officer’s directions to turn around, the NSA said Hall chose to drive toward an agency’s police vehicle, prompting officers to shoot at the vehicle. Hall was killed and his passenger was seriously injured.