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Security review for military sites would include MacDill

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Published:   |   Updated: September 18, 2013 at 07:36 AM

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In the wake of the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that killed 13 people, including the man accused of carrying out the deadly attack, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will order a review of the security at all U.S. military installations around the world.

Locally, that review would include MacDill Air Force Base.

“The secretary is collecting inputs from senior leaders today to define the parameters of this review, which could be formally announced as soon as tomorrow,” a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday afternoon.

The call for a review comes after authorities say Aaron Alexis, 34, a former Navy reservist and defense contractor, killed 12 people at the Naval Sea Systems Command facility in Washington before being killed himself.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he supported the review, especially in light of a series of security breaches at MacDill involving a homeless woman who sneaked onto the home of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command four times between Oct. 1 and Jan. 1. Those breaches prompted him to visit the base in July for an inspection of its security.

“Such a review would seem to be in order, given some of the terrible incidents we've seen at military facilities,” Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said Tuesday afternoon. “And while not at all a tragic event, the recent security breach at MacDill still raised some troubling questions.”

After the July visit, Nelson said he was “satisfied that their security, given the nature of the base, is at the level it needs to be.”

Last month, Suzanne Jensen was found incompetent of charges that she trespassed on MacDill four times. She told base security that she twice scaled fences, one time using an overturned garbage can as a ladder, according to court records.

The base was also the scene of a fatal shooting on May 19, 2010, when an FBI agent shot a veteran named Ronald J. Bullock.

“The evidence reviewed determined Mr. Bullock was armed with a knife, charged the FBI agent, and ignored repeated commands to surrender his weapon,” according to the FBI. “The agent involved in the incident feared for his life, and in accordance with his training, fired in self-defense, resulting in Mr. Bullock's death.”

The 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill's host unit, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying that while officials could not discuss security, the wing remains vigilant.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., who were affected by today's tragic incident,” the statement read. “We typically do not discuss security posture, however, with over 6 million visitors to MacDill each year, our security forces go to great lengths to protect the people and assets assigned to the base. As always, we ask the local community to assist in identifying those things that look suspicious.”

Base officials did not immediately respond to questions about Hagel's pending security review.

In the event of a shooting situation on MacDill, Tampa police would offer assistance if requested by base security, according to spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

haltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

@haltman

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