Was Lackland shooter authorized to carry a gun on base?
Questions loom in wake of shooting; officials offer praise for response
SAN ANTONIO – One man who lives at Lackland Air Force Base's Medina Annex asked the same question going through a lot of people's minds: How did the airman involved in Friday's apparent murder-suicide get on base with a weapon?
"It's a scary situation," Takari Johnson said as he waited in a line of vehicles to enter the base after the shooting.
He had dropped his son off at school when he got a text from his wife who works at the Medina Annex about an active shooter.
"(I) tried calling her, couldn't get a hold of her. Tried texting her, couldn't get a hold of her," Johnson said. "How was he able to get a weapon on base?"
As the investigation into the murder-suicide continues, we don't know whether the unidentified airman involved was authorized to have weapons on base.
"Individuals don't get to carry weapons unless they're part of this team. You have to be a security forces defender, you have to be an OSI agent or if you're in the FBI, one of our brother/sister law enforcement departments. They are the only ones authorized to have weapons," Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta said, commander of the 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio.
A recent poll by Saint Leo University, which has a location in Corpus Christi, shows nearly 83 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed believe active duty military should be allowed to carry firearms on U.S. military bases.
However, until more is learned about what happened between the airman and his commander, the currently policy at Lackland stands.
While at the gate for the annex, KSAT-12 noticed all drivers were asked for identification when entering base, but didn't see any vehicles being checked or searched.
Meanwhile, both military and civilian emergency response crews are thanking each other for the swift response to the tragedy.
During a press conference Friday morning, officials reported it took three minutes for patrols to arrive after the "active shooter" call. Shortly after, other local agencies followed pursuit.
"Just like in the public, in the community, we have one-offs," LaBrutta said. "That's what I would consider this, a one-off. Our first responsibility is safety, security and asset protection."
It took minutes to find the bodies of the airman and his commander, both men, with two weapons nearby. Over an hour later, after the security sweeps were done, it was determined to be an isolated incident.
"My hat's off to the responders that arrived," JBSA Fire Chief Mike Ledford said. "The sheriff, San Antonio Police Department, San Antonio fire. Fire and EMS did a fantastic job."
Unfortunately, with recent deadly mass shootings, including one just 165 miles away at Fort Hood in 2009, training for "active shooter" situations has become the norm.
"We do train for active shooters," LaBrutta said. "We constantly do that across Joint Base San Antonio. The individuals in the facility followed that to a 'T,' and as a result, we didn't have any additional casualties."
Officials said it is too soon to tell if any security measures will be changed in the wake of Friday's shooting.
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