Man with rifle shot near gate at Arkansas air base

An SUV is stopped outside the front gate of little Rock Air Force Base near Jacksonville, Ark., Monday, June 15, 2015. Military officials said two people were hospitalized after shots were fired when a civilian attempted to enter Little Rock Air Force Base. The Jacksonville police department said the would-be intruder was injured and taken into custody. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
An SUV is stopped outside the front gate of little Rock Air Force Base near Jacksonville, Ark., Monday, June 15, 2015. Military officials said two people were hospitalized after shots were fired when a civilian attempted to enter Little Rock Air Force Base. The Jacksonville police department said the would-be intruder was injured and taken into custody. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (AP) – A civilian armed with a rifle was shot and critically wounded after trying to enter Little Rock Air Force Base on Monday, though it wasn’t immediately clear why the man was trying to enter the sprawling base, military officials and police said.

Col. Charles Brown Jr., the commander of the base, said an SUV jumped a curb and knocked over a street sign near the base’s front gate before the driver got out with a rifle. Brown said guards began firing after seeing the man was armed.

Brown said at a news conference Monday afternoon that he didn’t know whether the man fired his weapon at the scene, or if the man said anything to the guards.

The base issued a statement earlier Monday saying the man was hospitalized in critical condition, and that an injured bystander also was taken to the hospital. No details were released about either person.

The base went on lockdown after the 9:15 a.m. shooting, and heavily armed security personnel sealed off access to the base, which is about 15 miles northeast of Little Rock. The main gate and a smaller entrance were open by early Monday afternoon at the base, home to a major C-130 training facility.

A bomb squad checked an SUV parked near a curb and sidewalk outside a visitor center at the base’s main gate. All four of its doors, along with its tailgate, were opened, and officials told those standing nearby to take cover behind other vehicles as workers wearing ordnance-disposal gear approached the vehicle.

Jacksonville Police Sgt. Dustin Brown said a civilian attempted to gain access to the base, though he had no information on the age or condition of the person who attempted to gain access to the base. Guards turned away a steady stream of cars and also prevented people from leaving the base, which abuts Jacksonville.

Lt. Amanda Farr, a spokeswoman for the 19th Airlift Wing, said numerous agencies including the FBI were working to ensure the base was safe.

“They’re all coordinating together to secure the area,” she said.

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