MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, home to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and dozens of other mission partners, went on a lockdown this morning that has since been lifted.
There were no shots fired and no injuries to base personnel in an incident that started around 7 a.m., according to the base Facebook page. The base re-opened most of its gates around 8 a.m. The incident appears to be related to a domestic violence situation, with no apparent connection to the base other than potential proximity of the suspect, according to local police officials.
“Just before 2 a.m. on January 10, we received a call about a 54- year old man with a gun who vandalized a vehicle at an apartment complex at 10601 Gandy Blvd N." in St. Petersburg, Florida, across the bay from Tampa, according to a media release “The suspect also damaged the door of the apartment of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. When officers arrived, the suspect had already left the area. This morning SPPD received information that the suspect may be in the area of MacDill Air Force Base and alerted the Base as a precaution."
St. Petersburg police are still looking for the 54-year-old man involved in this domestic incident.
“This is an active investigation and updates will be released as more information becomes available,” according to the release.
“We had a pretty dynamic situation this morning when we had to put the base on lockdown,” said Air Force Col. Steve Snelson, commander of the 6th Air Refueling Wing, the base host unit. “We received reports of an armed suspect near the Tanker Way Gate area. We searched the area and didn’t find any evidence of an intruder. … There are no threats on the base right now.”
“MacDill went on lockdown at approximately 7 a.m. due to a potential armed suspect near the Tanker Way gate area of MacDill” said Terry Montrose, a spokesman for the 6th ARW. “Local authorities are currently searching for the suspect. MacDill first responders are on the scene, and have isolated the response to the Tanker Way area.
"MacDill opened all gates except Tanker Way at about 8 a.m. Tanker Way gate remains closed until the situation is resolved in the South Tampa area. More information will be released as it becomes available.”
Tampa Police Department officials tell Military Times that they did not respond.
The incident has not affected the work at either CENTCOM or SOCOM.
CENTCOM oversees U.S. military operations in a 20-nation swath — including Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan — stretching from Egypt west to South and Central Asia. SOCOM is a man, train and equip headquarters that coordinates the U.S. military effort against violent extremists.
The incident comes at a time of heightened security for U.S. military installations.
“While we will not discuss specifics, U.S. Northern Command is implementing additional force protection condition measures to increase security and awareness for all installations in the U.S. NORTHCOM area of responsibility,” according to a statement.
MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, began 100-percent identification checks on Saturday, according to a Facebook post. In addition to CENTCOM and SOCOM, the base houses Special Operations Command Central and Marine Forces Central Command among other base tenants.
Depending on individual base commanders’ policies, some installations usually allow cars to pass through entry gates with checking only one occupant’s ID, assuming that person is vouching for any other passengers.
This is a breaking story. Please stay with MilitaryTimes.com for updates.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.