The weird saga of a man with an AK-47 who tried to break into a Missouri army base has ended with the arrest of 31-year-old Cody Nathaniel Willcoxson.
A little past 8:30 A.M. local time, Willcoxson showed up at Fort Leonard Wood, a United States Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. No one knows exactly what Willcoxson was doing there. Their Web site lists “Counter-IED” as their number 1 mission priority. IEDs are Improvised Explosive Devices, a weapon of choice for terrorist insurgents. Fort Leonard Wood also develops “doctrine and capabilities for the Training and Doctrine Command’s U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School,” among other functions.
Willcoxson tried to bluff his way past a security guard with a phony ID card. When it didn’t work, he drove through the gate. Fox News reports he then “led military police on a chase that ended when he drove back out through the front gate and the St. Robert Police Department began the pursuit.” The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department also joined the chase, which spilled onto Interstate 44.
During the course of this pursuit, Willcoxson produced a weapon tentatively identified as an AK-47 assault rifle, and began a high-speed gun battle with the police, firing through his side windows and sun roof. He managed to hit the pursuing police chief’s car in the driver-side mirror and engine compartment, but fortunately no police injuries have been reported. Just outside of Rolla, the cops blew one of the fugitive’s tires with a “stop stick” covered in hollow Teflon-coated spikes.
Willcoxson kept driving and shooting, eventually ditching his damaged vehicle near McNutt Hall at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The university went into lockdown at 8:50 AM, then reported the gunman had fled the campus about 15 minutes later.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Willcoxson then broke into an occupied private home and demanded the keys to the resident’s car. He was caught by a Missouri state trooper somewhere near the interstate, although exact details of his capture have not been released yet. There was apparently some blood in his car, and some reports say he was lightly injured during pursuit or capture.
Police reports describe Cody Willcoxson as Caucasian, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 180 pounds. MSNBC reports he served three and a half years in an Oklahoma prison for “second-degree burglary, escape from a county jail, and assisting the escape of a prisoner.” KSDK News in Missouri says “Investigators have applied for warrants for four counts of felony assault on law enforcement,” and “bond has been set at $1 million.”