“Suspicious activity” puts Delaware National Guard on alert [video]

 Access to Delaware Air Guard security gate blocked off and guarded (Gary Lindstrom/WHYY)

Access to Delaware Air Guard security gate blocked off and guarded (Gary Lindstrom/WHYY)

Few additional details were provided during a news conference about the increased security levels at the Delaware National Guard base in New Castle.

Outside of the gate of the Armed Forces Reserve Center, Public Information Officer Lt. Col. Len Gratteri said the “suspicious activity” consisted of a series of vehicles either approaching the security gate on the Air Guard side to ask for directions or making a U-turn before coming in contact with the base’s security personnel.

While it’s not uncommon for somebody to stop at the base and ask for directions, Gratteri said, “It happened over the course of two days, Monday and Tuesday, four or five times we had this happen, so it raised a red flag to us.”

Gratteri said there is surveillance video of the vehicles approaching the gate.

“My understanding was it was not the same vehicle and same people coming through the gate,” said Gratteri, pointing to the frequency of the occurrences as unusual.  

Gratteri reiterated no specific threat had been identified saying this could all just be a coincidence. Nonetheless, the Guard raised the security level and notified Delaware State Police, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Dept. of Homeland Security who are currently investigating.

In addition to more rigorous identification checks and more frequent patrols, access to the Air and Army Guard security gates is blocked off and guarded. The gates are also locked around the Armed Forces Reserve Center on Airport Road.

Gratteri said the recent attacks in Paris did not have an impact on the Guard’s decision to beef up security levels. 

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Original story:

Increased security levels are in effect at the Delaware National Guard’s air base in New Castle.

A vague news release stated base personnel recently reported what might be “suspicious activity.” While no specific threat was identified, Guard leaders notified local law enforcement as well as the military on the national level.

In an email, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Len Gratteri said the suspicious activity involved individuals approaching the security gate asking for directions, which is not uncommon. 

“However, it happened a few times one day this week so we decided to be proactive by upping the security measures while we investigated to see if it was indeed suspicious, or just coincidence,” he wrote.

It hasn’t been confirmed, but Guard sources said the individuals approached the gate on the Air Guard side near the Joint Forces Headquarters along Airport Road.

Specifics about what security measures are in place could not be discussed, but Gratteri said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala errs on the side of caution when it involves protecting his soldiers, airmen, equipment and facilities.

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