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Active shooter threat at Holloman mitigated

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Nearly every Air Force installation conducts regular exercises to practice what to do in an active shooter scenario, but what many participants in these exercises may not realize as they're crouched underneath a desk is that these procedures save lives.

Last year at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., one first sergeant's quick thinking stopped an Airman from carrying out a threat to kill his commander and the commander's family.

"In late April 2012, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, received a credible threat against squadron-level leadership at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.," said Special Agent Mills, an OSI agent at Detachment 225 here. "The threat came from a disgruntled Air Force member whose intent was to kill a commander and his family here, and was conveyed over social media."

The Airman was disgruntled because he had recently been issued disciplinary action.

An OSI detachment at another installation originally identified the threat and contacted base officials here, according to Mills. As soon as the threat's credibility was verified, OSI, the Otero County Sheriff's office, Alamogordo Department of Public Safety, the 49th Security Forces Squadron, and other agencies instituted a county-wide search for the individual.

The member in question was identified in the parking lot of his unit, pacing and acting erraticly.

"In this situation, which was very unique, the first sergeant actually locked down the squadron, informing them not to leave their offices until further notice," said Mills. "That response was textbook perfect. That's exactly what should happen in this type of situation."

What could have been an active shooter scene was mitigated. Security forces responded, and the Airman was arrested.

"There's no doubt that the quick action of the first sergeant, security forces, OSI, and the Otero County Sheriff's office prevented loss of life," said Mills.

Incidents like this, though not always preventable, can sometimes be stopped with proper training.

"It's important to have [regular] active shooter exercises and to take them very seriously, because things happen all across the United States, and you never know when this kind of thing may happen," said Mills. "It could happen anytime, anywhere. It's important not to become complacent."

If any military member ever receives a threat or learns of a threat against another member, they should immediately contact security forces or the command post. Warning signs sometimes include pacing, erratic behavior, any communicated threat (even via social media), distancing from social interaction, and disgruntled behavior - but, because everyone's different, any drastic changes in normal behavior should be monitored or reported, said Mills.