An Army veteran who authorities called suicidal took over a decommissioned aircraft carrier in Charleston Harbor on Tuesday, disrupting Independence Day celebrations while negotiators tried to talk him off the ship.
The man drove his car past two unarmed guards before dawn, hopped a fence and told a guard he was taking over the World War II-era USS Yorktown, which is now a naval museum, authorities said.
No one was injured and the Vietnam vet, wearing a beard, shoulderlength hair and camouflage, roamed the ship alone and talked with negotiators about women in the military and family values, officials said.
“He’s a veteran who has had a few problems in his life. We’re taking it step by step at this time,” said retired Admiral Jim Flatley, executive director of the maritime park.
Because the man said he had a weapon, authorities closed the park and golf course next to the ship and a swath of harbor that could lie in the line of fire.
They also canceled a flag-raising, breakfast and tour of the ship. As many as 5,000 people had been expected, curator Steve Ewing said.
In the evening, negotiators with a crisis team from the Medical University of South Carolina convinced the man to come down off the ship onto a pier. They were about 100 yards apart, but then a nearby fireworks explosion appeared to frighten the man and he went back onto the ship, Mount Pleasant Police Chief Thomas Sexton said.
There were no plans to storm the ship because no one was in danger, said Mount Pleasant’s city administrator, Mac Burdette.
The man told negotiators he had a week’s provisions, said Roger Heide, public safety director at the park.