355th Fighter Wing commander follows up on Friday's security situation

  • Published
  • By Col. John A. Cherrey
  • 355th Fighter Wing commander
I'd like to thank all of you for your patience during last Friday's base-wide lockdown as well as offer some information on what happened.

The incident started with an eyewitness report of an individual in building 4300, carrying in what was described as an assault rifle. Security Forces had the opportunity to interview the witness several times and the report remained consistent. Base leadership took this as a credible threat and quickly implemented a base-wide lockdown and cordoned off the area. No shots were fired and caution was the most prudent course of action.

We methodically implemented a plan to secure the building and transport the occupants to safety while maintaining the ability to quickly respond to a fluid situation. During the situation we found it prudent to restrict information flow to ensure that if the potential suspect had access to media reporting, they could not use those reports to thwart efforts. In the end, we did not find a weapon or suspect in the building.

After the building was cleared and 100% contact was made with all those inside, it was determined that the witness was mistaken. The man fitting the description of the suspect was located during the situation and found not to have a weapon or any intent to harm base personnel.

I take the safety of every Airman and their families very seriously. The lockdown was the quickest way we could isolate the situation and ensure base personnel and families were kept away from a reported armed individual. I realize this may have inconvenienced many people both on and off base. However, we chose caution as we had almost 20 personnel in the building in question as well as numerous first responders in the immediate area.

While this turned out to be a benign incident, we acted based on what we knew at the time. I urge you to not be complacent should something similar happen again.

Overall, it was a very hectic day, but I'm proud of the professionalism across the board by our first responders, EOD, Tucson partners, leadership and the base populous that displayed great patience as we worked our way through some very difficult decisions.