A man who broke into Fort Knox, Kentucky was fatally shot by military police after he tried running over multiple military police officers.
Officials said the shooting occurred on Sunday after the suspect drove through the gate at Fort Knox near the U.S. Bullion Depository. Officers pursued the man, who was later identified as Billy Atkins, 41, of Salem, Indiana. The chase ended by the main cantonment area, where a 90-minute standoff began, WLKY reported.
Officials said Atkins was shot around 1:20 a.m. after the suspect got back in his car and attempted to ram and run over police officers. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Atkins’ family said he suffered from mental health issues. They did not know why Atkins drove to Fort Knox over the weekend.
“Billy called around 10:30 that evening and in a conversation with his mother said he was the happiest he’s ever been and he was going to marry,” Atkins family attorney Larry Wilder said. “The Atkins realized he was in a state and they began to try and find him.”
The family’s other attorney, Zach Stewart, said he and Wilder believe Atkins was trying to leave, not hit the officers, and questioned if the actions of the military police that night were justifiable given the suspect’s mental state.
“That wasn’t a war zone; this is an unarmed mam suffering from a mental breakdown,” said Wilder. “Is there a more recognizably safer, less-lethal method?”
The incident is currently not connected to any extremism or terrorism investigation, officials noted. The Fort Knox command information chief said that due to an ongoing investigation, no additional information will be provided.
Last year, the U.S. Army put out a call for facial recognition technology to help security guards at military bases and facilities quickly identify whether an individual approaching the gate is authorized to enter.
The Army wants a system that can be used at all hours of the day and in a variety of weather conditions, to better identify who is driving up to base gates and military facilities, and more quickly process those authorized to enter.
The Army said, “The current effort would use existing technology to develop a facial recognition system that has the capacity to detect passengers in a moving vehicle and compare the captured image of the driver to a photo gallery of preapproved users. The results would be displayed to the guard with a photo of the driver indicating an access
granted or access denied response in time to allow uninterrupted vehicle traffic flow for approved users.”