'Person of interest' arrested in JBER gate incident

ldemer@adn.comJanuary 20, 2013 

Anchorage police Saturday evening arrested a "person of interest" connected with a serious security breach at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson that happened early Saturday when a man in a pickup truck drove through the gate, around the base, and then back into the city.

Neither police nor military officials have named the individual nor have they said if the person is the same who drove onto the base. The individual was arrested on unrelated charges, also unspecified, said a base spokesman, Maj. Joseph Coslett.

The arrest happened in Eagle River around 7:15 p.m., said Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard, also a base spokesman. Before midnight Saturday, Anchorage police found the truck -- a blue 1994 GMC Sierra -- in East Anchorage.

While authorities didn't identify the location, a KTUU-Channel 2 photographer late Saturday night recorded video of a vehicle matching that description and with the same license tag -- 3605DB -- on Garden Street in Airport Heights, near Alaska Regional Hospital. A police officer was taking photographs and the vehicle appeared bullet-ridden, according to video posted on the station's website. One image shows a flat tire. In some of the later images, yellow crime scene tape cordons off the truck.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Dani Myren said she could not provide further information because police had referred the matter to the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. A call to the FBI was not immediately returned.

Coslett said the investigation was a matter of "incredible importance," but until it is further along, much is unknown.

"The hows, the whys, the whats are all going to come out in that investigation," Coslett said.

The incident began around midnight Friday when the pickup truck drove through the base gate at Boniface Parkway, Coslett said earlier. Another base spokesman said a chase ensued at speeds of more than 60 mph.

Base security forces tried but failed to stop the vehicle. The man aimed the truck at security forces, and they shot at the vehicle with 9 mm handguns in an attempt to disable it, Coslett said.

When the driver found the base gate at Government Hill blocked, he turned around and escaped through the Boniface gate, military officials said.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

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