JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who crashed a car Wednesday morning near Naval Air Station Jacksonville and then jumped the fence onto the base was taken into custody following an hourslong search, officials said.
NAS Jacksonville said the man crashed his vehicle on Roosevelt Boulevard and Collins Road about 10 a.m. before hopping the base fence.
An exhaustive search ensued, with the involvement of NAS Jacksonville Security Department, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Baker County Correctional Institution and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
NAS Jacksonville residents were asked to stay indoors. Mother and wife Samantha Martin said she expected the worst.
“When I first found out, I didn’t know what to think. I mean, first thing I thought was an active shooting or something because you never know,” Martin said. “I’m very surprised that it happened. We’ve had drills. We’ve had major security at the gate and stuff.”
About 11 a.m. is when Martin said the base sent out an official notification to residents about what happened. Before that, she said, she had no idea.
“My husband came home. He didn’t know what was going on. They didn’t let him know at his work. My friend saw him outside and she was, like, ‘Get inside.’ And he was, like, ‘What’s going on?’” Martin said. “We had no clue.”
Shortly after 2:45 p.m., NAS Jacksonville tweeted that the man had been captured at the base and “the all-clear has been given for base housing tenants.”
At a news briefing Wednesday afternoon, Capt. Jeff Hill, commanding officer of NAS Jacksonville, said a JSO K-9 tracked down the man.
“He stayed pretty much to the southwest corner of the installation. We had a good feel for where he was the entire time,” Hill said. “He was totally in a wooded area in and out of the forest. We saw him a couple times where he poked his head out.”
A JSO officer at the briefing said that the man, who was unarmed, was taken to a hospital after he was captured. His identity was not immediately released, and officials said it’s unknown why he ran after the crash.
Hill said the man did not go into any building while on base.
“As far as a message to families now, I like to think that they should know that Naval Air Station Jacksonville is secure, got incredible naval security,” Hill said. “But more importantly, we work with JSO and NCIS and Customs and Border Patrol. We work with them all the time during training evolutions, and so when something bad happens, it is almost seamless how we were able to come together.”