South Korean man captured after breaching gate at Camp Humphreys
By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 7, 2018
SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean man breached a gate at Camp Humphreys over the weekend but was captured and turned over to national police, a spokesman said.
The suspect drove through the main gate at the sprawling Army garrison south of Seoul at 4:20 a.m. on Saturday and reportedly was pursued by U.S. military police in a car chase before he was apprehended about 10 minutes later.
Garrison spokesman Bob McElroy confirmed a man got through a barrier at the gate before he was caught by the MPs and turned over to South Korean police.
He said there were reports that the man had been seen outside the gate a couple of times before the breakthrough but declined to provide more details because the incident is still under investigation.
“He was apprehended without incident,” McElroy told Stars and Stripes, referring further questions to the 8th Army public affairs office.
No gunshots were fired and no injuries were reported.
A bar that drops in front of vehicles suffered minor damage from the incident, 8th Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Christina Wright said Tuesday in an email.
“While they were working to repair the damage, they took the opportunity to
conduct scheduled maintenance on the gate,” she said. “During the scheduled maintenance the gate remained open with one lane closed for repair.”
Saturday’s breach was not otherwise publicly announced.
Wright declined to answer questions about the response to avoid discussing specific security measures publicly.
“Our Military Police responded quickly, took control of the situation and resolved it peacefully,” she said.
Two local police officials, who agreed to discuss the case on condition of anonymity, said the suspect was known to suffer from mental illness and frequently stood outside the base.
Gates at Humphreys and most other U.S. installations on the divided peninsula are staffed by civilian security guards who work for a private contractor.
The intrusion occurred as tensions are high over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
A newly expanded Camp Humphreys, about 40 miles south of Seoul, is home to the 8th Army headquarters and will eventually house the bulk of U.S. Forces Korea after a much-delayed project to relocate them from Seoul and other bases near the border with North Korea.
The United States has about 28,500 servicemembers along with family members and civilian contractors based in South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North after the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.
In 2015, Yokota Air Base in Japan was locked down for nearly four hours after a man with a suspicious package gained unauthorized access to the base before he was arrested.
Stars and Stripes reporters Marcus Fichtl and Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.