What We Know So Far About the Alleged Shooter Near a Mississippi Military Base

Gunshots have heard for two days near one of the Jade Helm 15 locations.

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Aug 5 2015, 8:56pm

Baria's booking photo, via Perry County Sheriff's Department

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One man has been arrested and charged after two days of mysterious gunfire being reported in the area around Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Soldiers at the center who were standing guard at a checkpoint initially reported that they heard gunshots coming from the nearby woods on Tuesday at around 8 AM. On Wednesday when they heard more gunshots in the same spot around 11:45 AM, Camp Shelby went into an elevated state of alert. Lieutenant Colonel Christian Patterson told USA Today that no one has been hurt. The soldiers standing guard said they saw at least one white man in a red pickup truck.

It should be noted that the base is one of the locations of the Jade Helm 15 military exercise. The secret military training drill is a multi-state operation scheduled to go on until the middle of September, involving about 1,200 military personnel, most of whom are from the Army. In addition to the center's usual 4,600 active-duty personnel, and reservists from Mississippi and Texas have been brought in for "summer training exercise" according to Biloxi, Missippi's newspaper The Sun Herald.

As we've noted before, the exercise triggered a fair amount of fear and paranoia about the Obama administration declaring martial law or taking away citizens' guns. The Governor of Texas has even launched a monitoring program. An organization called Counter Jade Helm was formed, boasting hundreds of volunteers, and in Texas, some of those averse to a secret military operation in their neighborhood stockpiled thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Initial reports had a "person of interest" near camp shelby being apprehended dramatically at gunpoint. The AP later identified him as 61-year-old Alfred Baria. Baria has been charged with disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor, and, after a search of his house, possession of guns, which is a felony. According to Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith, Baria will have a bail hearing tomorrow.

Photos taken at the scene show the seemingly caucasian Baria on his knees outside a red pickup truck, just as described by the guards who reported the gunshots. According to Yahoo News, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation initially took him into custody, and according to agency spokesman Warren Strain, he defended himself by claiming he can't control when his truck backfires.

Nearby street signs were discovered to have bullet holes in them.

Sometime after the authorities converged on the scene, they found what they perceived to be a suspicious parcel in the truck, prompting a whole circus of bomb squad technicians, dogs, and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to show up as well. The FBI has also been notified, according to The Sun Herald.

The ATF's Jason Denham later announced to the local TV news station WLBT that the suspicious package contained PVC pipe and "caps" (presumably blasting caps), but was not a bomb. Baria's truck has been towed away, and the area is now clear.

For their part, the Mississippi volunteers at Counter Jade Helm haven't yet reported any clashes with the military. Yesterday, however, the FBI arrested three North Carolina men for possession of bomb-making supplies. Authorities told reporters that the men were plotting to used explosives to counter attempts by the US government to impose martial law.

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