A day after another mass killing at a military installation, those who live on, work at or frequently visit MacDill Air Force Base expressed sadness and sympathy, but no feeling of vulnerability.
“I live on the base and I feel very safe,” said Amanda Patterson Crowe, whose husband, J. Michael Crowe, 36, is a Navy chief petty officer stationed at U.S. Central Command. “I think like any tragedy, this one is completely unpredictable, one of those things that happen in places we feel safe most of the time.”
Investigators say Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, at the same Texas base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009.
Security officials at MacDill say that they routinely train for active shooter situations and that no extra security measures are taking place at what is essentially a small city where about 14,500 military personnel and civilians work every day.
“Because active shooter incidents can occur at any time and any place we are constantly adjusting our training based on updated techniques, tactics and procedures in order to remain ahead of the threat,” said 2nd Lt. Patrick Gargan, a base spokesman.
That includes working with local law enforcement, other outside agencies and training the “base populace” to deal with active shooter situations.
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Thursday morning, the MacDill Wives and Moms Facebook page was abuzz with chats about the Fort Hood shooting, said page administrator Carole Moore Adamczyk.
A lot of the discussion focused on whether guns should be allowed on base, said Adamczyk, whose husband, Wally Adamczyk, is a retired Air Force master sergeant who worked in base security in Niagara Falls.
“Some of the wives were asking, ‘why can’t everyone have a concealed weapon? If more people had concealed weapons, they could have shot [Lopez] earlier,’” she said.
Pentagon rules generally limit who can carry a weapon on base to security personnel and those dealing with “missions or threats and the immediate need to protect DoD assets or persons’ lives.”
All visitors to MacDill “must notify security forces at the gate that they have a privately owned weapon in their vehicle,” MacDill spokesman Gargan said. “Military members bringing weapons on the installation are required to register the weapon at the armory.”
Adamczyk, who visits MacDill several times a week, said that having people carrying weapons on base is a bad idea.
“I don’t think they should allow people to have weapons on base,” said Adamczyk, a former family readiness coordinator for U.S. Special Operations Command Central. “You can’t have everyone with concealed weapons. It would be a free for all.”
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The base already adjusted security procedures after a homeless woman named Suzanne Jensen snuck onto the base four times between Oct. 1, 2012 and Jan. 4, 2013, Gargan said.
“Countermeasures have been put in place to eliminate potential security breaches,” he said. “With over 6 million visitors to MacDill each year, our security forces go to great lengths to protect the people and assets assigned to this installation.”
MacDill security has had to deal with violence and weapons in the past, though nothing even close to the scale of the two incidents at Fort Hood, or the Washington Navy Yard shooting last year in which 12 people were shot to death by a gunman who, like Lopez, took his own life.
In January 2012, an employee of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency was charged with bringing a concealed handgun and more than 300 rounds of ammunition onto MacDill in violation of defense regulations.
In June 2010, base security at the Bayshore Boulevard gate stopped a car that was found to contain three military-style rifles, three handguns and ammunition. Security personnel also found military clothing and other military-style equipment in the car and discovered the man was absent without leave from his military unit.
In April 2010, a defense contractor and Army Reserve 2nd Lieutenant was found to be living on base under false pretenses and found to have several weapons and about 9,000 rounds of ammunition in his base apartment without permission. In May 2010, a Vietnam war veteran named Ronald J. Bullock was shot just inside the Dale Mabry gate by an FBI agent after threatening the agent with a knife, according to the FBI.
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