Authorities say a man in a pickup truck fired shots near a group of soldiers training at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
A large-scale training exercise is being held there as part of Jade Helm 15.
No one was injured, WDAM-TV reports. The Tuesday incident was reported at about 12:15 p.m., about 45 minutes after the shots were fired.
Police say they are searching for a white man who fired from a two-door red pickup truck.
On Tuesday, the soldiers were at a checkpoint on a county-owned road on the outskirts of Camp Shelby, Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said. The shots fired on Wednesday happened in the same area at about 8 a.m.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jade Helm Has Sparked Fears About Martial Law Among Conspiracy Theorists
Conspiracy theories about Jade Helm 15 spread rapidly across the Internet after plans about the exercise were leaked to the public. According to the Austin American-Statesmen, there was an “explosion of outrage on social media after the release of the map, which labeled Texas, Utah and the southern tip of California as ‘hostile.'”
A military official who went to a Bastrop, Texas, meeting about the exercises was told the government can not be trusted, and that the plan for the exercises is to put martial law in place.
“It’s the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany. You get the people used to the troops on the street, the appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the police,” a local resident, Bob Wells, told the Austin newspaper after the meeting. “They’re gathering intelligence. That’s what they’re doing. And they’re moving logistics in place for martial law. That’s my feeling. Now I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist.’”
The Army Times detailed some of the “head-scratching” conspiracy theories, including that FEMA is building domes to house those who fight back against the government, that Blue Bell ice cream trucks could serve as rolling morgues, that recently closed Walmart stores could serve as military headquarters and that the military is secretly preparing for an imminent asteroid strike.
Some Texas residents told the New York Times last month that they are being extra vigilant as the training is conducted.
“With Obama being in there,” Scott Degenaer told he Times, “with the way he’s already stomped all over the Constitution, pushing his presidential authority to the max, it would only be just the stroke of a pen for him to do away with that. This man is just total anti-U. S.”
Degenaer was skeptical about the reporter and photographer who were interviewing him, the Times reported, wondering if they were part of the operation. “Spec Ops grows beards,” he said, while referring to the Times’ photographer’s facial hair. “Y’all got a military ID?”
Two North Carolina men were recently arrested on charges that they stockpiled weapons, ammunition and tactical gear in preparation for Jade Helm, the Associated Press reported.
2. A Truck Matching the Description Was Found Abandoned in a Neighboring Town
According to Ryan Moore of WDAM-TV, a pickup truck matching the description was found off Old Augusta Road in the neighboring town of New Augusta, Mississippi, but was later determined to not be the truck involved in the shooting. Two men were detained for questioning, but later released without charges.
Police are still looking for a pickup truck that rides low to the ground.
The Perry County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol are investigating.
3. The Incidents Are Not Being Called an ‘Active Shooter’ Situation
Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith told WDAM-TV that the gunman fired from the truck and did not stop. No one was hit in both incidents.
It’s not yet known how many shots were fired.
Lieutenant Colonel Christian Patterson, director of public affairs at the Mississippi Military Department, told the Clarion-Ledger that the incident is not being viewed as an active shooter situation. Increased security measures have been taken recently to protect soldiers, Patterson told the newspaper.
4. About 4,600 Soldiers Are Training at the Camp as Part of the Jade Helm Exercises
Camp Shelby is hosting a large-scale Army and National Guard training exercise this week, the Hattiesburg American reported on Sunday.
The training is part of the controversial Jade Helm 15 exercise, according to the Army Times. Jade Helm has led to numerous conspiracy theories and led Texas Governor Greg Abbott to order the Texas State Guard to monitor the training.
About 4,600 soldiers are participating. The training began in July and will last until mid-August.
“There are very few places that can actually host an event this size. There are places around the country that would have something similar, but they can’t offer all the different capabilities that Shelby offers here,” Major General Augustus L. Collins, told the newspaper. “Camp Shelby is the perfect place to do this.”
The exercises are known as “Exportable Combat Training Capability.”
The participants include the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team from Tupelo, Mississippi, and the 1st Calvary Division, 500 members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from Fort Hood, Texas, as well as about 300 Army reservists.
According to its website, Camp Shelby was founded in 1917 during World War I and has served as a training site since then for Army Reserve components, as well as active duty components of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Its mission statement is, “to be the premier integrated war-fighting and force generation installation while serving as the world-class center of excellence for installation management customer service and community partnering.”
It is on a mix of state, Department of Defense and U.S. Forest Service lands in DeSoto National Forest. The website says:
Encompassing more than 134,000 acres (525 square kilometers), Camp Shelby can support battalion level maneuver training, and has a wide range of training and logistical support facilities. It is a training ground for the M1 Abrams Tank, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and M109A6 Paladin Howitzers and home to the 177th Armored Brigade (Training Support). Camp Shelby serves as a training site for National Guardsmen and Reservists from throughout the country hosting as many as 100,000 personnel annually.
5. The Shooting Comes Less Than a Month After 5 Servicemen Were Killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee
The shooting incident comes less than a month after four Marines and a Navy sailor were killed at a military training facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The gunman in the July 16 shooting, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was killed by police during a shootout at the base. He also opened fire from his vehicle on a National Guard recruiting center a few miles away from the training facility.