North Carolina man fires shots at Greensboro recruiting center after Army rejects him for service
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 17, 2020
WASHINGTON — A 36-year-old man who had been repeatedly denied enlistment into the Army faces multiple felony charges after police charged him Monday with shooting into a military recruiting center in Greensboro, N.C., according to authorities.
James Alexander Cooper was arrested soon after he fired shots at about 6 p.m. at the Armed Forces Recruiting Center and charged with a felony count of discharging a firearm into an occupied building and multiple misdemeanors including six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, said Ron Glenn, a spokesman for the Greensboro police. Cooper remained in the Greensboro jail on Thursday held on $160,000 bond, according to court records.
Six service members — four Marines and two Navy sailors — were inside the recruiting center when the shooting occurred. No one was injured in the incident, according to Glenn and Marine and Navy officials. The center has offices for recruiters from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps
Cooper had repeatedly visited the recruiting center recently to try to join the service, according to an Army official, who was not authorized to speak about the suspect and requested anonymity. Cooper kept trying to enlist with different recruiters but he was denied entry each time, the official said.
Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, confirmed Thursday that the “suspect in police custody had applied to join the Army and was disqualified.” She said she could not disclose why he was ineligible to enlist.
It was not clear Thursday whether Cooper had attempted to enlist in any other military services. Capt. Ryan Lowcher, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said Cooper had not tried to join the Marines.
Court records show Cooper faces other pending felony charges in North Carolina. They include multiple counts of failure to appear in court, auto theft, and charges related to fraud and forgery. The auto theft charges were filed by law enforcement in other parts of North Carolina -- Nash and Wake counties. Such pending charges would typically disqualify an applicant from joining the military.
Photos posted on the Recruiter Times Facebook page, an unofficial group for Army recruiters, show bullets shattered doors to the recruiting center and at least one struck a cubicle inside the office. The military added new protections to its recruiting stations, including ballistic protections, after the 2015 shooting of a recruiting center and Navy Reserve base in Chattanooga, Tenn. A Marine recruiter was wounded in that incident and six people – four Marines, a sailor and the shooter – were killed at the Navy base.
Bland said Thursday that she could not provide detailed information about the protections to the recruiting centers, citing security concerns. However, the protections worked Monday as planned, she said.
“Our leaders and personnel are constantly evaluating the current environment to ensure we are taking the appropriate measures to protect our force at recruiting stations across the country,” Bland said. “While I can’t get into the specific force protection measures in place at each of our stations, I can tell you we focus on visibility, access control, and physical protection measures.”
A photo posted on the unofficial Army Recruiter Times Facebook page show damage to the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Greensboro, N.C., from a shooting Monday night. Police charged James Alexander Cooper, 36, with opening fire on the center. Military officials said he had been denied enlistment in the Army before the incident.
RECRUITER TIMES FACEBOOK PHOTOS