June 15, 2010 / 3:49 AM / 9 years ago

Armed man halted at U.S. base was AWOL: military

MIAMI (Reuters) - A man who tried to enter a Florida military base with fake identification and a stash of guns and ammunition is a U.S. serviceman absent without leave from the military, base officials said on Tuesday.

But the unidentified man was not stationed at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, where he and a civilian woman were detained on Monday night for attempting to gain unauthorized access, Air Force spokeswoman Katherine Holt said.

Investigators are still trying to contact the man’s military unit, she said.

The man and woman, U.S. citizens in their mid-20s, were stopped at a gate as they tried to enter the base in a sport utility vehicle carrying military-style uniforms, six rifles and handguns and a large quantity of ammunition, authorities said.

Guards searched the vehicle after the pair showed fraudulent identification. “During the search, a dog alerted on a scent that led to the discovery of ammunition and weapons,” said Colonel Dave Cohen, vice commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at the base.

“Our security forces team acted decisively and the base’s security procedures worked properly,” he said.

Holt said the guns were “military style,” but that some were commercially available.

Base officials said there was no security breach and no indication the incident was related to terrorism, though they were still trying to determine what the pair intended to do.

The MacDill base houses the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which runs the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the U.S. 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, whom Holt described as “disgruntled,” had been visiting the base when the altercation broke out and the off-duty agent reportedly shot him in self-defense.

Reporting by Jane Sutton and Tom Brown; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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