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A Joint Base Andrews sign faces the air traffic control tower along the Maryland base’s flight line on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

A Joint Base Andrews sign faces the air traffic control tower along the Maryland base’s flight line on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (Stars and Stripes)

A teenage intruder with a gun was apprehended, and a second remained at large Monday, after an overnight sweep of Joint Base Andrews determined there was no threat on the Maryland military post, officials said.

The base just outside Washington, D.C., that is home to Air Force One among other critical government planes was returned to normal operations at about 3 a.m. Monday, some six hours after the intruders entered the installation, according to a JBA statement. The individuals attempted to drive a stolen vehicle past security checkpoints at the main gate but were thwarted by barriers deployed to stop them. They fled the vehicle on foot, ignoring commands of Air Force security personnel, officials said.

The incident was under investigation, and a Joint Base Andrews spokesman said he could not detail precisely what occurred before the suspects ran from the vehicle.

A 17-year-old male was quickly captured by Security Forces airmen, who found he was in possession of a firearm “after his apprehension,” the JBA spokesperson said. That suspect — whose identity was not released — remained in custody Monday.

The second intruder evaded capture, the official said. After an hourslong sweep of the installation, including in its housing areas, Security Forces determined the individual was no longer on Joint Base Andrews, according to the statement.

Air Force Col. Tyler Schaff, the commander for JBA and its 316th Wing, said he was “proud of the quick actions” of his security officials in ensuring the base was safe. He said Air Force law enforcement from the Office of Special Investigation and local police from the Maryland’s Prince George’s County, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, and the Maryland State Patrol assisted in the search.

“The [security team] handled the intense situation with discipline and calm professionalism," Schaff said in the statement. “We are also thankful for our partnerships with local authorities, who responded rapidly on base to assist the 316th Security Forces Group throughout the night.”

The incident comes just more than a year after another high-profile intrusion at the key air base. A homeless man with a lengthy arrest record was able to drive onto the post Feb. 4, 2021, after he was permitted entry by a “distracted gate guard,” an Air Force Inspector General probe found last year. That individual was able to enter an Air Force C-40 Clipper jet — the military version of a Boeing 737-700C — before he was captured, officials said at the time.

The Air Force launched a service-wide review of security procedures after that incident, but the inspector general found no systemic issues with installation access security at Joint Base Andrews.

The JBA spokesman on Monday declined to say whether gate security at the installation had been changed after that incident.

The incident occurred while Vice President Kamala Harris and some members of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet were at the installation after returning from a visit to Selma, Ala., to commemorate the anniversary of the 1965 Bloody Sunday incident, in which peaceful civil rights protesters were attacked by police. Harris and the other officials were able to leave the installation Sunday evening safely, according to the White House.

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.
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