Editor’s note ~ This is a breaking story, and will be updated as new information is released.
Security officers opened fire on a black SUV at one of the security gates to the NSA campus at Fort Meade, Maryland after it rammed into a security barrier Wednesday morning. There were at least two people in the vehicle, one of whom was injured and has been transported to the hospital. The other has been detained.
Fort Meade garrison spokeswoman Cheryl Phillips confirmed to the AP that one person was injured in the shooting around 7 a.m. and was taken to the hospital. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department, on the other hand, told WTOP that they took two people to the hospital. And a more NSA statement regarding the incident claimed that “weapons were discharged in the course of the incident” and “several individuals were transported to area hospitals; however, preliminary reports do not presently indicate that there are injuries attributable to gunfire.”
It’s unclear why exactly the people in the car crashed through the Canine Street gate, though investigators seem confident that they weren’t specifically targeting the NSA or Fort Meade. It may be that they were running from local police.
The FBI is leading the investigation into the incident, and the NSA claims that there are no ongoing security concerns. However, Route 32 was closed after the shooting. It has since been reopened, but the investigation could lead to the route being closed once again. The ramp to the NSA visitors’ entrance is still closed.
Authorities have not yet released the identities of the injured people or the one detained, and it’s currently unknown how many people were in the vehicle and whether any of the “several individuals” reportedly taken to the hospital were NSA personnel or otherwise uninvolved civilians. However, we will update this story as more information becomes available.
Update: 1:45 p.m. Eastern
The Baltimore Sun now reports that three people were injured: the driver of the SUV, an NSA officer, and a bystander who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The NSA still maintains that none of the injuries were related to gunfire.
Special agent Gordon Johnson, who is in charge of the FBI investigation, said that there were three men in the SUV, which, contrary to earlier speculation, was not being chased by local police. He said that they are trying to talk to the men and discover why they drove onto the NSA compound unauthorized, prompting officers to open fire.
“We believe there is no indication to think this is anything more than an isolated incident,” Johnson said. “We believe there is no nexus at all to terrorism.”
The identities of the three men have yet to be released, and likely won’t be for some time, as this is a pending investigation. While Johnson doesn’t believe this was a terrorist attack, it is still unclear what exactly it was.
Update: 7:15 Eastern
There have still not been any names released, but the authorities have confirmed that there were three men in the vehicle, two of whom are in NSA custody. No update has been given on the condition of the driver, but the injuries to the NSA officer and bystander have now been reported as not life threatening.
FBI spokesman Dave Fitz said that investigators were considering the possibility that the driver simply made a wrong turn, but that there were other theories being considered as well. However, terrorism is still off the table, and Johnson reiterates that they believe this is an isolated incident with no ties to terrorism. He has yet to say who opened fire, but did say that the gunfire was directed at the vehicle, which is clear from the photos.
It’s unclear as of yet why he has avoided explicitly saying that the NSA opened fire on the SUV, especially since his earlier statement justified the NSA’s action as appropriate.