Capt. Scott F. Adams, right, commanding officer at Navy Base Point Loma, talks April 24 about an incident on the base in which a sailor was arrested for operating an Airsoft weapon on the base. Adams was accompanied by Lt. Commander Steve Ruh, left. A second sailor who was a friend of the sailor with the weapon was also arrested. (Lenny Ignelzi / AP)
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SAN DIEGO — A major Navy base ground to a halt for more than two hours Thursday after a sailor waved a weapon from a sixth-floor barracks room that turned out to be a pellet gun used for recreational purposes, officials said.
The sailor, whose name was not released, told authorities that he fired the weapon at a mirror in a parking garage, said Capt. Scott Adams, commanding officer of Naval Base Point Loma. Pellets were recovered near the mirror.
The Navy characterized the weapon as an airsoft gun, which is often used for games and simulated combat. Adams said it was “something designed for sporting activity.”
Someone on the ground saw the sailor brandishing the weapon from the sixth floor, said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Ruh, a base spokesman.
“When you’re looking up six floors, they resemble the real thing,” Ruh said.
The sighting — less than a month after a shooting rampage by a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas killed three people and wounded 16 others — prompted a swift response from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, an FBI SWAT team and San Diego police.
All base personnel were ordered inside and told to stay away from windows and doors after the initial report around 10 a.m. PDT, Adams said. The shooter went to a nearby room in the barracks to join another serviceman, officials said.
The sailor surrendered to Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials around 12:30 p.m. PDT, Adams said. Both servicemen were taken into custody and are under investigation.
“It went flawlessly,” Ruh said. “You could not have had a better outcome. Fortunately, these sailors didn’t have real weapons.”
The Navy said in a press release that two servicemen fired weapons. Adams said only one was seen with the gun.
Naval Base Point Loma, located on the tip of a peninsula near downtown San Diego, houses seven submarines, the Third Fleet Command, the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and other major units. Six naval installations were consolidated on the base in 1998 as part of a military downsizing that followed the end of the Cold War.
The base has about 7,000 sailors and employees, only some of whom live there, Ruh said.
Adams said he didn’t know the rank or history of the men, or whether they exhibited warning signs. The sailors lived in the barracks which houses junior enlisted servicemen, he said.