Thursday, May 08, 2014

Dover Air Force Base lockdown lifted


A lockdown at Dover Air Force Base was lifted at 2:40 p.m. Thursday, base officials say.

Just before 3 p.m., Airman First Class William R. Johnson, a base spokesman, said more information would be released soon.

Base officials said the military premises were on lockdown since 11 a.m. due to a report of a suspicious person, but a school director whose students were touring a museum there said they were told there was a possible active shooter on the base.

"The base went into lockdown and our students were secured in a protected area," said Edward Emmett, director of Positive Outcomes Charter School in Camden. The students are safe and have been returned to the school, said Emmett, who was not at the museum at the time of the incident.

Johnson dismissed the claims.

"At this time we have no information that would lead us to believe that there is an active shooter on the base," Johnson said.

Traffic was moving normally on nearby routes, such as Del. 1 and Bay Road.

Outside the main gate, Sgt. First Class Thomas Myers was waiting to enter the base. He said he had heard from others still inside the base that a "suspicious character" had been apprehended.

Uniformed security servicemen and women could be seen wearing yellow vests or belts at base gates Thursday afternoon. They were flagging people to turn around at the main gate.

While there were short backups to get in at most gates, there appeared to be a backup inside the base waiting to get out at the south commercial gate.

There is significant retiree traffic on and off the base, for commissary and exchange trips. It was clear from U-turning traffic that a number of retirees were having their plans changed.

Johnson did not have details on the suspicious person, but said the person was seen about 11 a.m. near Building 706, where several arrival ceremonies have taken place.

As a precautionary measure, base officials implemented base lockdown procedures and instructed all personnel to shelter in place. he said.

"The safety of our people is our top priority," Col. Randy Huiss, 436th Airlift Wing vice wing commander said in a news release. "We take this report very seriously and are taking the necessary precautions to investigate this matter."

According to sources, students at Maj. George S. Welch Elementary School on the base are also on lockdown. Classes continue, but students are not allowed in the hallways.

Mike Leister, director of the Air Mobility Command Museum, said that facility was on lockdown for about 30 minutes before being allowed to reopen.

"We were given permission to reopen because we are in a separate enclave," Leister said, adding they continued routine operations, including an army change of command ceremony. "We locked the place down, we gathered everybody up and passed the information out and when we got permission to open back up everybody went about their business."

Leister said he heard someone mention there was a "possible active shooter," but he did not know where that came from.

"It wasn't from any official source that I saw," Leister said, adding he was told the lockdown was due to a report of a suspicious person. "That's all we really had."

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