An armed man has been arrested after pursuing members of the Texas National Guard down the highway as they transported doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
The soldiers were travelling on the edge of Lubbock, Texas, on Monday, March 22, to transport the vaccines to a town 80 miles away, when 66-year-old Larry Harris attempted to run their vans off the road.
As part of his efforts, Harris swerved into oncoming traffic to stop the vehicles before brandishing his .45-calibre pistol and ordering the 11 members of the national guard out of the cars, claiming he was a detective.
The 66-year-old began his pursuit almost as soon as the soldiers left an armoury in Lubbock, after they stopped at a gas station across the highway for drinks.
Idalou Police Chief Eric C. Williams said the soldiers involved were left shaken as a result of the incident, commenting: ‘Some were so young, I thought they may have been part of an ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) detachment.’
Williams explained that one of the soldiers called 911 and Idalou officers soon arrived at the scene, where they arrested Harris and charged him with offences including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful restraint of 11 National Guard members, unlawful carrying of a weapon, impersonating a public servant, and interference with Texas military forces, AP News reports.
No soldiers were harmed in the incident, and after being caught by police, Harris, from Arizona, claimed that he thought three unmarked white vans being used by the national guard were involved in the kidnapping of a woman and child, The Washington Post reports.
Officers found that Harris was carrying a second magazine in a pocket and a third magazine in his truck, along with more ammunition. None of the soldiers were armed, which Williams said is typical when undertaking domestic responses such as coronavirus-related missions.
Following his arrest, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requested that Harris be held in jail. It is unclear whether the 66-year-old has an attorney, but Williams said the DHS will likely bring federal charges against him.
The Texas National Guard said the incident remains under investigation. In spite of their interruption, the national guard soldiers are believed to have successfully delivered the vaccine supply to the town of Matador.
The day after the incident, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 83.9 million people in the US have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with providers administering an average of roughly 2.5 million doses per day.
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