Keesler officials react to Navy yard shooting, ensuring base safety

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Questions remain as to why Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist with chronicled gun-related incidents and mental issues, was allowed clearance to enter the base.

Thousands of South Mississippians depend on the security at military installations to keep they safe every day. Almost immediately after Monday's shooting rampage, questions about security were raised.

Whenever a crisis happens, the military and civilians know security measures could be tightened. But, those in charge of securing Keesler Air Force Base say, it's priority one.

"The men and women of the security forces squadron here have seen multiple combat deployments and are trained and prepared to protect this place under all costs," said Major Brian Fitzpatrick, the 81st Security Forces Squadron Commander.

He said the armory is just one example of the thorough security measures taken at Keesler Air Force Base.

"We train on a regular basis for active shooter scenarios so folks throughout the base and specifically my folks to their reactions to those specifics scenarios and threats," said Major Fitzpatrick.

He feels he has good reason to be confident, having worked with military security for more than a decade.

"The threat exists on a day to day basis; however, if that does arise, my folks are trained to quail that threat," said Major Fitzpatrick.

For civilians like Michelle Blackwell, who has worked on base for 14 years, that sense of safety is apparent.

"I feel comfortable and confident with the security measures Keesler has in place," said Blackwell.

Blackwell said sometimes the security measures taken are frustrating, but, in the end, she's grateful.

"Going, rushing into work or leaving late for an appointment and getting caught at the gate for some type of security measure," said Blackwell. "When traffic gets backed up and sometimes we don't understand, but now I really appreciate those extra measures."

Those extra measures are something officials say always have and always will be taken. Making those on base truly grateful.

"I would say thank you, train and keep doing what you're doing because we never know when it could affect us in that way," said Blackwell.

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