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Barricade situation ends at Arizona base

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 16, 2011, 5:32 p.m.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A barricade situation is over at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, but authorities aren’t immediately releasing any details.

A military official said earlier Friday that a man with a gun was holed up in a building at the sprawling base on the outskirts of Tucson and that the base was locked down for several hours.

The reports prompted a frenzy of activity at the base and in the news media amid unsubstantiated reports that someone had been shot.

Base officials wouldn’t say if there was a gunman or if there were any arrests.

The base commander was scheduled to hold a news conference Friday evening to discuss the situation.

A man with a gun holed up Friday in a building at a sprawling Tucson Air Force base that was locked down several hours earlier on the outskirts of Tucson, a military official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Traffic into and out of the base was being limited because of an unspecified security situation, but no one was shot or hurt, according to the public affairs office at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Schools at the base were locked down and parents waited for information about when they could pick up their children.

The lockdown was prompted by reports of someone with something that looked like a weapon, said Tech Sgt. Russ Martin said earlier. Base officials would not confirm reports of a man holed up with a gun.

“So the base is going into crisis action mode. We’re just locking down the base for the safety and security of the people on Davis-Monthan,” he said.

The Tucson police department says its SWAT team, hostage negotiations unit and bomb squad are on stand-by to help out if necessary. An FBI spokesman says investigators are on at the base on the edge of the southern Arizona city where earlier this year a gunman gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people.

Ambulances were sent to the base, sparking fears of injuries, but it was just a case of bad timing, Martin said.

“Any ambulance you saw leaving earlier, not too long ago, was actually a woman going into labor,” he said.

As the lockdown unfolded Friday, Senior Airman Timothy Dunaway said traffic was reduced to a single point entry; vehicles lined up at the base’s main gate and were being turned around.

Alison Bunnell, who lives at the base with her husband and their four children, was turned away when she tried to return to the base after having left it.

Bunnell said she was told that children at the base’s schools were oblivious to what was going and were watching movies and eating snacks. She said she wasn’t worried. “We have exercises all the time,” Bunnell said.

Davis-Monthan is adjacent to the Pima Air and Space Museum and the “boneyard” for old military and government airplanes that is a popular destination for aviation enthusiasts.

The base is the home of the 355th Fighter Wing, and provides attack airpower, combat support and medical forces, according to the base’s Facebook page.

Security at military bases has gained more attention in the last two years since an Army major went on a rampage at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009. Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the shooting spree. Investigators have foiled other plots against military bases in other parts of the country since Sept. 11.

Associated Press writers contributing to this report include Mark Carlson and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington.


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