HATTIESBURG — Authorities are searching for two men who fired gunshots from a vehicle at soldiers at a military facility in Mississippi, although no one was reported wounded, a sheriff said Tuesday.
Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith told WDAM-TV (http://bit.ly/1UlrHi6) that the soldiers were training at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg.
Mississippi’s National Guard said soldiers training at Camp Shelby reported hearing shots fired at 11:45 a.m. along Peret Tower Road, near the training facility. The facility is secure and all personnel accounted for and unharmed, the guard said in a news release.
Lt. Col. Christian Patterson said the shots were fired from a fringe road that runs along the eastern side of the base.
“We had soldiers who were training in the area and heard the shots. They reported it to their chain of command and then we reported it to the local authorities,” Patterson said.
The guard made no mention of whether the shots were believed to have been fired at troops but made clear that the shots are believed to have been fired from outside Camp Shelby.
Deputies later traced the vehicle to a residence, Smith told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper. Smith had previously described the vehicle as a red Ford Ranger with “broken arrow” written across the top.
The giant military base south of Hattiesburg is one of the premier training facilities for National Guard troops from across the country and during the height of the Iraq war was often the last stop for National Guard troops training to go to the Middle East.
The base is currently hosting about 4,600 active-duty soldiers, National Guard and reservists from Texas and Mississippi in a summer training exercise.
Patterson declined to specify if the soldiers training in the areas were National Guard members, active duty soldiers or reservists.
“Our statement is everyone is accounted for and training is continuing,” he said.
This summer’s training focuses on the coordinated efforts of individual soldiers acting as a platoon, which can vary in size but normally boasts 30-plus members.
The exercises, called “Exportable Combat Training Capability,” began in mid-July and will continue through mid-August.
Camp Shelby officials also were hosting a field hearing Tuesday by the National Commission on the Future of the Army.
The commission is an independent, congressionally mandated panel directed to assess President Barack Obama’s recommendations for restructuring the Army’s active-duty and reserve component force structures.