|Col. Charles E. Brown Jr., commander of Little Rock Air Force Base, discusses the shooting at a press conference Monday afternoon with Jacksonville Police Chief Kenny Boyd (left).|
Leader staff writer
“My defenders did their job,” said Col. Charles E. Brown Jr., commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and Little Rock Air Force Base, during a press conference Monday afternoon after two 19th Security Forces Squadron members stopped a rifle-wielding man from entering the base.
The FBI named north Pulaski County resident Larry McElroy, 43, as the suspect. He died Tuesday night at UAMS.
The incident took place around 9:15 a.m. Monday when a vehicle came “crashing over the curb and street sign.” The driver then attempted to get out of the vehicle with a weapon in his hands, according to Brown and a news release from the base.
McElroy’s vehicle and home were searched for evidence of a bomb, but nothing was found.
The base was locked down for about two hours and 45 minutes while being cleared of any additional potential threat. The lockdown was lifted mid-afternoon.
McElroy has a history involving alleged drug use, hallucinations and claims that LRAFB officials bugged his home on Maddox Road. Reports, most filed by him with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, date back several years.
On Jan. 22, he told deputies he had found three spy devices on electronics and a chandelier using a “bug” locating device purchased from Ebay. Little Rock Air Force Base officials planted them, McElroy insisted.
In a Jan. 25, 2014, report, McElroy’s father said his son called to say more than 25 people were holding him and his wife captive at their home.
McElroy said the people who held them captive wore uniforms and were carrying weapons.
The deputy’s narrative reads, “While speaking to Mr. McElroy Jr., he began to point out individuals who were standing next to us, and others that were laying on the ground, pointing weapons at us. It was obvious he was hallucinating.”
McElroy’s father told the deputy his son was a drug user and that it was not the first time he had hallucinated.
On March 31, 2014, McElroy told police he was afraid for his safety and that people were watching him. He said he wanted to go to the hospital, and his wife agreed to drive McElroy there.
Earlier that same day, deputies had been called to his home because McElroy reported that his wife was threatening to hurt herself with a knife. She didn’t have one in her possession when police arrived and denied that she ever did or made any such statements.
McElroy stated later that he wasn’t sure his wife ever had a knife.
On March 23, 2007, his wife called police to report that he had choked and shoved her a couple of times.
On June 11, 2014, county cops were called again for a domestic dispute. McElroy said he and his wife had argued but that he didn’t want to press charges and nothing physical happened.
He didn’t allow the deputy to photograph his injuries and refused to fill out a domestic battery form.
On Monday, the FBI and Little Rock Fire Department Bomb Squad searched the home at 4120 W. Maddox Road Pulaski County deputies were so familiar with.
“The FBI had reason to call (the base bomb squad) out,” Brown said. The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, including a robot, searched the suspect’s vehicle and removed several items, including gas cans.
No explosives were found in either the vehicle or home. It appears there was no motive, and McElroy had no ties to terrorism, according to a news release from the FBI.
“I do know through (the Air Force Office of Special Investigations) and FBI…they have determined there is no additional threat to the base and he is a lone actor,” the base commander said.
“At any given time, we have four to six defenders at the gate,” Brown told reporters. According to him, the standard-issue weapon for Security Forces is a Beretta M9. “At this time, I don’t know that is the weapon they utilized. At times, they are afforded semi-automatic weapons, but I don’t know what they were garnering at that time,” Brown said.
“This is a traumatic event, as you can imagine. We will make sure they are able to go back to full mission status before we release them,” he said of the two airmen involved in the incident.
“The first thing that always goes through my mind is the well-being and care of airmen and their families,” Brown said of the lockdown situation. “You go through the actions you’re trained for. We make sure everyone is notified through our loud voice (speaker system), as well as Facebook and email, to go into lockdown.”
According to an FBI release, “This is a joint investigation with the Little Rock Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Jacksonville Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, the ATF and the FBI.”
A bystander was hurt at the scene, but a news release said the injuries were unrelated to the shooting and that the person was released from North Metro Medical Center the same day.
Leader staff writer Sarah Campbell contributed to this article.