Tuesday, June 15, 2010
TAMPA — 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 reportedly stopped at the Bayshore Boulevard gate after the pair was unable to show proper identification, a base spokeswoman said. The man and woman were held on the base for questioning. Their names had not been released early Tuesday.
Officials say the as yet unidentified man is in the military and was AWOL (absent without leave) at the time of his arrest. The woman apparently has no military affiliation. Both are in their mid 20's and are U.S. citizens. A MacDill spokesman said Wednesday the pair tried to use fraudulent military identification to get past the Bayshore Boulevard gate around 5 p.m.
When guards became suspicious, ordnance teams were called to the gate and a robotic vehicle was used to determine that the car was safe. A search of the vehicle turned up six weapons: three handguns, three rifles and ammunition, according to MacDill spokesman Col. David Cohen, 6th Air Mobility Wing vice commander.
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Base officials haven't heard that it was a planned attack and authorities did not find any explosives. A News Channel 8 reporter on scene at the base saw at least 13 loaded rifle magazines and two pistol magazines in a bag. Authorities also found military clothing and other military-style equipment in the grayish blue Honda CRV driven by the suspects.
The South Tampa base houses the headquarters of the Central Command, which runs the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and the Special Operations Command. On May 19, an off-duty FBI agent shot and killed an Army veteran after a confrontation and chase at the base. The veteran had been visiting the base when the altercation broke out, officials said.
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