By Makini Brice
FORT MEADE, Md (Reuters) – Several people were injured on Wednesday when an unauthorized motorist tried to drive onto the campus of the U.S. National Security Agency near Washington, prompting guards to open fire on the vehicle, officials said.
The motorist, who was not identified, drove a black sport utility vehicle to a gate of the secretive government body in Fort Meade, Maryland, at about 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT). Armed guards typically secure the gate and the NSA said in a statement that shots were fired during the incident, although it did not say whether guards or the suspect fired a weapon nor who was injured.
The vehicle had what appeared to be bullet holes in its windshield and extensive front-end damage after crashing into a concrete traffic barrier, according to video of the scene.
The incident did not appear to be linked to terrorism, said a federal official familiar with the investigation.
“A vehicle attempted to enter the NSA’s secure campus in Fort Meade, Maryland, without authorization,” the agency said in a statement. “Weapons were discharged in the course of the incident, which remains under investigation.”
The NSA, one of the U.S. government’s main spy agencies, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident, did not respond for details about who did the shooting and who was injured.
The NSA said several people were taken to hospitals from the facility, located at a U.S. Army facility about 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Washington.
Earlier media reports said as many as three people had been wounded at the base, which also is home of the U.S. Cyber Command and Defense Information School.
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service focuses on using technological tools, including the monitoring of internet traffic, to monitor the government’s adversaries.
A White House spokeswoman said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting.
Fort Meade is located just off a major Washington-area highway and motorists occasionally unintentionally take the exit that leads them to its gates, which are manned by armed guards.
In March 2015, two people tried to drive through the NSA’s heavily guarded gate. Officers shot at the vehicle when they refused to stop, killing one of the occupants. The people in the vehicle may have taken a wrong turn after partying and taking drugs, according to news reports.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, Roberta Rampton and Susan Heavey in Washington and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)