News 12 First at Five, June 16, 2010
FORT GORDON, Ga.---Fort Gordon officials admit Wednesday a situation involving explosives and a man impersonating a soldier, could have been much more serious. 34-year old Anthony Saxon was arrested Tuesday and charged with theft of government property and impersonating an officer, both federal charges.
Fort Gordon is supposed to be a safe place where thousands live, work, and study. But Tuesday, that safety was put into question when officials say a civilian armed with explosives and dressed as a soldier came onto the base.
According to a complaint filed in Federal Court, Saxon came to the Military Police Law Enforcement Center and requested to borrow an expensive infrared laser scope. He claimed he was a member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and needed the scope for training. The documents say the Captain handed over the piece of equipment and made Saxon sign a receipt.
"His intentions...you just don't know. You just never know, I'm definitely going to be way more on guard," says Rachel Strong, who's husband serves in the Army at Fort Gordon.
Rachel Strong was immediately worried about her husband, who's spent three tours overseas. "16 months at a time not knowing whats going on that's hard enough, but when your husband is literally right down the street, I shouldn't have to worry. I worry enough when he's gone, I don't want to worry when he's home," says Strong.
Her first thought, was the Fort Hood shootings. "I don't want a tragic incident like that to happen here, so close to home," adds Strong.
Fort Gordon officials say a suspicious car-- one linked to an April theft on post-- was spotted. A few hours later, the FBI says they arrested 34-year old Anthony Saxon, of Keysville.
"Their vigilance lead to the safe conclusion of a potentially serious incident," says Fort Gordon Military Police Chief Willie McClinton.
Saxon's car was searched and the bomb squad was called in. "One device was detonated, as a precaution because it was unknown. Two other devices were commercial incendiary devices," says Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Colonel Glen Kennedy.
"Flash bang grenades," meant to distract people and military-like equipment were found inside. "That's a device that you could throw into a room and it gives off a very bright light and a bang at the same time. Which is really used to disable or disorient a person as opposed to kill them," adds Col. Kennedy.
"I'm thankful it's something as small as a flare but at the same time, it's all dangerous," says Strong.
A close call officials are now looking closer at.
"I just hope that this tightens up security, you know, we have that brand new beautiful awning where they actually do I.D. checks now and I hope that money wasn't wasted," says Strong.
Anthony Saxon was in Augusta Federal Court Wednesday afternoon. He was dressed in a partial army combat uniform, a tan shirt and army camouflage pants.
His wife was present and sobbing. Saxon will have another hearing Monday. Saxon is a former National Guardsman who served in 1993 and left with an honorable discharge in 1994.
Fort Gordon says the threat level did not change on base, but they are reviewing the situation and will make changes where necessary.