TAMPA - Sen. Bill Nelson will be coming to MacDill Air Force Base to meet with base leadership Friday to talk about how a homeless woman managed to get on base four times over a three-month period, according to a MacDill spokesman.
Nelson has asked Air Force officials to explain how Suzanne Jensen, 50, managed to sneak on base, including at least two incidents where she scaled base walls, once using an overturned trash can as a ladder, according to court documents.
"We've got to figure out what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again in the future," Nelson, D-Fla., a senior member of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
Nelson will meet with base leadership, security forces and military officers at 10 a.m. Following a half-hour briefing, they'll depart on a boat tour to see security around the base, which has roughly seven miles of coastline on the south end of Tampa's Interbay peninsula.
Jensen trespassed onto the base, home of U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command, between Oct. 1 and Jan. 4, according to federal court records.
Last month, federal prosecutors filed four charges of entering the base without permission and one count of using a military identification without permission against Jensen.
Jensen's known incursions onto MacDill began Oct. 1, when a retired Air Force major named Barney Morris noticed a strange woman on his boat, moored at the base marina.
Thinking that people don't wander onto one of the most secure facilities in the country, Morris said he assumed Jensen, "was a dependent of someone on the base."
But when he tried to detain her, she jumped into the water. Morris, a postal security officer, called security forces, who then reached out to Tampa police, which provided air support and search dogs. After six hours, a soaking wet woman matching Jensen's description was found at Seascapes Restaurant on base, according to an affidavit.
When base security officers ran her name, they found that she had no base affiliation, but "an extensive criminal history involving other incidents of trespassing on other military installations."
She was cited for trespassing and held under a 72-hour involuntary commitment order known as a Baker Act, according to jail records.
On Nov. 18, Jensen was spotted on base again, this time at the gym. When she was detained, Jensen gave a photo identification she had taken from a locker, according to the affidavit. When security officers escorted her to the MacDill gate, Jensen showed them how she used a trash can she got from softball fields outside the gate to enter the base, flipping it over to use "as a ladder to get over the wall," the affidavit said.
She was cited for trespassing and unauthorized use of a military identification.
On Dec. 17, a security officer saw a "suspicious individual" hiding behind a parked car in the lot at Building 49. Jensen tried running from the officer, but then stopped. She had a backpack filled with clothing, which Jensen said she had taken from a drop box for donated clothes. Jensen was again cited for trespassing and removed.
A few weeks later, on Jan. 4, security officers saw Jensen on base again. She said she climbed a perimeter wall next to the MacDill Avenue gate, had been living inside a boat on a trailer in the base Family Camp for eight days and again had been taking clothes from the drop box.
She was cited for trespassing.