Person of Interest Questioned After Shots Fired Near Military Base

Investigators are questioning a person of interest after shots were reportedly fired a second consecutive day near a military facility in southern Mississippi, officials said Wednesday. There were no reported injuries.

At about 8 a.m. Wednesday, soldiers training at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center reported shots fired into the air, said Lt. Col. Christian Patterson. It was in the same area where soldiers reported gunshots fired from a pickup truck a day earlier, Patterson said.

The description of the shooter was the same in both instances, Patterson said: a white male in a red pickup truck.

Later in the day, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents stopped a person of interest and took that person into custody for questioning, said MBI spokesman Warren Strain. Strain would not identify the person or say where the person was being questioned.

The post is secure, and all personnel are accounted for.

Patterson said Tuesday that guards at all base entrances were armed under a recent order from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. On Wednesday, Bryant said in a statement that the shootings underscored why he signed that executive order July 20.

"The Soldiers at Camp Shelby and across the state can and should take appropriate steps to defend themselves as necessary," Bryant said.

No one was wounded in the Tuesday shooting, which occurred near a checkpoint at the post. Authorities were quick to point out that shooting took place outside the base perimeter.

"This incident occurred along the eastern edge of Camp Shelby. It did not occur on the base," County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said at a news conference.

When asked whether it was an intentional shooting or possibly something like a hunting incident, Smith said it was not known.

Earlier reports that two people were involved proved to be wrong, he said.

Smith said he has asked the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation for help. The FBI and the ATF have also been notified, he said.

The large military base south of Hattiesburg is one of the premier training facilities for National Guard troops from across the country and during the height of the Iraq war was often the last stop for National Guard troops training to go to the Middle East.

The base is currently hosting about 4,600 active-duty soldiers, National Guard and reservists from Texas and Mississippi in a summer training exercise.

This summer's training focuses on teaching troops how to operate on the platoon level — generally about 30 soldiers to a group, although that can vary.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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