CAMP SHELBY, MS – Mississippi authorities have arrested a man in connection with recent reported gunfire near the Camp Shelby military post — though he hasn’t admitted to shooting at anything, a local sheriff said Wednesday.
This comes after two incidents of reported gunfire near the southern Mississippi base, one on Tuesday and another in the same area around 8 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) Wednesday, according to Mississippi National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Christian Patterson. No one was injured in either case.
Afterward, Perry County authorities and the military launched a hunt for whoever fired the shots, described in both cases as a white male in a red pickup truck, Patterson said.
Then came the news early Wednesday evening that 61-year-old Alfred Baria was in custody.
Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said that Baria has been charged with four misdemeanor counts of disturbing the peace and two felony counts of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in connection with the shooting investigation.
Authorities pulled over Baria in his truck on Highway 29 after the Wednesday morning shooting, according to Smith. They did not find any weapons in the vehicle, but a search of his home turned up a pistol and long gun.
Baria, who was questioned by investigators Wednesday, has not admitted to having any role in Tuesday or Wednesday’s reported gunfire near Camp Shelby, the sheriff said. Baria has said that he can make his truck backfire, according to Smith.
Governor: Troops ‘should take appropriate steps’
Information on whether anyone was targeted in either case wasn’t immediately available, though authorities noted that soldiers were at the checkpoint on the county road during Tuesday’s incident.
“The soldiers at Camp Shelby and across the state can and should take appropriate steps to defend themselves as necessary,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said Wednesday. “This is one of the reasons I recently signed an executive order directing certain National Guard personnel to be armed.”
Last month, Bryant issued an executive order allowing the National Guard to arm certain full-time personnel at military facilities. The order was in response to shootings July 16 at two military-related locations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, including at a Navy reserve center where five service members were killed.
Wednesday’s shots were “fired into the air,” Patterson said in a news release.
Camp Shelby covers over 134,000 acres
In the first incident, a man driving a pickup allegedly fired shots around 11:45 a.m. (12:45 p.m. ET) Tuesday near two soldiers who were at the checkpoint, Smith said.
The sheriff said Tuesday evening that it wasn’t clear whether that shooting was intentional or could have been related to hunting.
Two people investigators questioned Tuesday in connection with another vehicle were later cleared in the case, Smith said.
Active and reserve troops train at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, which covers more than 134,000 acres in southern Mississippi about 100 miles from Jackson.