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Man shot after trying to access LR Air Force Base, officials say

by Gavin Lesnick | June 15, 2015 at 10:14 a.m. | Updated June 15, 2015 at 3:21 p.m.
A man in protective gear searches a vehicle that had been driven by a man who authorities say tried to gain access to the Little Rock Air Force Base on Monday.

1:50 p.m. update:

The man who was shot while trying to gain access to Little Rock Air Force Base Monday morning was armed with a rifle, the base commander said Monday afternoon, but his motive remains unknown.

Col. Charles "Chip" Brown provided some details about the would-be intruder, who was reportedly shot about 9:15 a.m. as he got out of a maroon Ford Expedition just outside the main base gate on Vandenberg Boulevard.

The man was taken to UAMS Medical Center in critical condition.

Brown said it appeared the intruder — who he described only as a white man — may have lost control of his vehicle and hit a street sign before getting out of it with a rifle in his hands. He said he didn't know if the man fired, though he said the incident was likely caught on video that will be reviewed.

At least two of the officers posted at the gate engaged with the man, Brown said, noting up to six are posted there at any one time. He didn't know how many shots were fired.

Brown said he didn't know the suspect's "background or any motivations he may have had" or any links he may have had and said the FBI would be investigating.

"I do know through office of special investigations and FBI, what they have come up with from my threat working group, they have determined there is no additional threat to the base and he was a lone actor," Brown said.

A second person was also hospitalized, though officials described her as an innocent bystander whose injuries were not related to the shooting itself.

The base was locked down for about three hours while officials made sure the area was safe. That lockdown was lifted shortly after 12:30 p.m., though the gate where the shooting occurred remained shut and with crime scene tape across the road before 2 p.m.

Brown said it would be up to the FBI when it reopens.

"We do feel that the threat has been mitigated," he said. "There is no additional threat to the Little Rock Air Force Base. We will continue with its mission. There is no ongoing threat to the local community."

Brown said getting word of a shooting on base is a "surreal" experience.

"When you hear it, you think that potentially it's an exercise," he said. "Once it's in your mind it's a known threat to the base, you go through the actions we're trained for."

See Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full coverage.

Photo by Gavin Lesnick
Col. Charles "Chip" Brown, commander of the Little Rock Air Force Base, speaks to reporters Monday, June 15, 2015.
Photo by Gavin Lesnick
A Ford Expedition that had been driven by a man shot at the main gate of Little Rock Air Force Base is seen early Monday afternoon.
Photo by Gavin Lesnick
A man in a heavily-protective suit searches a sport utility vehicle just outside the front gate of the Little Rock Air Force Base.

12:35 p.m. update:

Little Rock Air Force Base officials say the lockdown of the base has been lifted. The main gate to the base on Vandenberg Boulevard is still shut, officials said.

Earlier:

One person was shot after trying to gain access to the Little Rock Air Force Base on Monday morning, Air Force and police officials said. The base remained locked down late Monday morning with crime scene tape blocking the main entry.

Sgt. Dustin Brown with the Jacksonville Police Department said his agency received a call of a person attempting to gain access to the base through the Vandenberg Boulevard gate around 9:15 a.m.

Air Force First Lt. Amanda Farr said the person who was shot was the one who was trying to get in and that he had been in a maroon Ford Expedition. That vehicle was visible on the curb just outside the gate and visitors center shortly before noon.

Farr said she had no further details about what happened and didn't know the person's condition.

The person who was shot was said not to be a member of the military. Air Force base officials said the person who was shot was taken to UAMS Medical Center for treatment and is in critical condition.

A robot and a man in heavily-protective bomb squad gear were seen at times maneuvering around or searching the Ford Expedition. At one point, people near the scene were asked to stand beside vehicles for cover.

A short time later, federal officials, including members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, were allowed into the blocked-off area.

A second person was also hospitalized Monday morning. Farr described that person as an "innocent bystander." She said that person's injuries were not related to the shooting. The bystander was transported to North Metro Medical Center and has been released.

A Little Rock Air Force Base official said at 10 a.m. that the base's security force was responding to what he described as an "incident."

About 9:15 a.m. an "active threat" occurred at the front gate of the base on Vandenberg Drive, a Little Rock Air Force Base news release states.

Officials said the base is currently on lockdown. Cars are being directed away from the front gate of the base, and police tape was strung up across the road at the scene.

Armed officers, meanwhile, were posted in the area.

The Arkansas National Guard announced in a statement via social media that the Camp Pike and West Maryland Avenue gates at Camp Robinson have been closed and will not reopen Monday after a "security incident" at the Little Rock Air Force Base. The main gate will remain open but the Arkansas National Guard advised personnel to allow for additional commute time as "enhanced security measures" may slow down traffic flow.

Officials said the Camp Pike gate will remain closed Tuesday and that the West Maryland Avenue gate will reopen with "enhanced security."

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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