The gates of MacDill AFB are open today and traffic flowing normally, but that wasn’t the case yesterday evening. Military police arrested a “heavily armed” man and woman attempting to enter the Tampa, Florida command base, although little else is known of them at the moment. CNN’s Larry King provided a live report of the search of their vehicle, stopped at the main gate:
A heavily armed man and woman were in custody Monday after trying to enter the Air Force base that houses the headquarters for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan without authorization, an Air Force spokeswoman said.
The pair were stopped at a gate at MacDill Air Force Base about 5 p.m. after they could not show proper identification, Senior Airman Katherine Holt said. A search of the vehicle after they were detained found military-style uniforms and gear and several “rifle-type” weapons, Holt said.
Why would a heavily-armed couple try to enter MacDill? CNN explains:
The Tampa, Florida, installation houses the headquarters of U.S.Central Command, which runs the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Were they attempting to attack MacDill, or just a couple with an ID problem? The St. Petersburg Times offers a few more details:
Entrance gates at MacDill Air Force Base were open as usual and traffic was flowing early Tuesday, the morning after a heavily armed man and woman apparently tried to gain unauthorized access, an official said.
Around 5 p.m. Monday, the couple’s SUV, loaded with about a dozen rifle magazines, a few long bags that are used to hold rifles, military clothing, duffel bags and boxes of ammunition, was stopped at the Bayshore Boulevard gate after the pair was unable to show proper identification, a base spokeswoman said.
That sounds like it could have been the end of a hunting trip, or possibly an attempt to commit some mayhem. After the Fort Hood shooting, military officials are taking no chances, especially since MacDill, like Fort Hood, is a key facility for the two theaters of war in which we are currently engaged. As more details come in and this incident becomes clearer, I’ll update either in this post or a fresh one.
Update: Well, it doesn’t appear to just be a misunderstanding, according to the St. Petersburg Times:
A man who tried to enter MacDill Air Force Base with a cache of military gear and weapons Monday night is an active duty member of the military listed absent without leave, a base official said Tuesday. …
About 5 p.m. Monday, security crews searched the couple’s vehicle and found, among the military-style gear and weapons, a dozen rifle magazines, a few long bags that are used to hold rifles, military clothing, duffel bags and boxes of ammunition, after the vehicle was stopped at the Bayshore Boulevard gate , said Katherine B. Holt, a MacDill spokeswoman.
The search started after they apparently showed security guards fraudulent identification, Cohen said.
“There was something not right about them,” he said.
The man and woman are in their mid-20s. Cohen did not discuss their relationship.
Why would an AWOL serviceman attempt to enter the gate armed to the teeth by presenting “fraudulent” identification? There could be a number of reasons, and none of them good. The military says that they have “no indication” of terrorism, but that’s perhaps still up for debate as details emerge.