Person of interest questioned after shots fired near base
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Investigators are questioning a person of interest after shots were reportedly fired a second consecutive day near a military facility in southern Mississippi, officials said Wednesday. There were no reported injuries.
About 8 a.m. Wednesday, soldiers training at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center reported shots fired into the air, said Lt. Col. Christian Patterson. It was in the same area where soldiers reported gunshots fired from a pickup truck a day earlier, Patterson said.
The description of the shooter was the same in both instances, Patterson said: a white male in a red pickup truck.
Later in the day, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents stopped a person of interest and took that person into custody for questioning, said MBI spokesman Warren Strain. Strain would not identify the person or say where the person was being questioned.
Video from two television stations show authorities taking a man into custody. A small maroon pickup truck is pulled off the side of the road.
In the video, the driver gets out with his hands raised and backs out toward two armed law enforcement officers. The man lowers himself to his knees, lowers his arms and clasps his hands behind his back. The video ends at that point.
Photos from the scene show officers going through the truck.
At Camp Shelby, guards at all base entrances were armed under a recent order from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Patterson said. After the second incident, Bryant said in a statement that the shootings underscored why he signed that executive order July 20.
"The Soldiers at Camp Shelby and across the state can and should take appropriate steps to defend themselves as necessary," Bryant said.
The area of the reported shootings is near a checkpoint at the post. Authorities were quick to point out that shooting took place outside the base perimeter.
"This incident occurred along the eastern edge of Camp Shelby. It did not occur on the base," County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said at a news conference.
The large military base south of Hattiesburg is one of the premier training facilities for National Guard troops from across the country and during the height of the Iraq war was often the last stop for National Guard troops training to go to the Middle East.
The base is currently hosting about 4,600 active-duty soldiers, National Guard and reservists from Texas and Mississippi in a summer training exercise.
This summer's training focuses on teaching troops how to operate on the platoon level - generally about 30 soldiers to a group, although that can vary.
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