Soldiers conducting Jade Helm 15 military training exercises at Camp Shelby in Mississippi on Tuesday took fire from what police say was a passing pickup truck — an incident that may have been motivated by the numerous extreme conspiracy theories swirling around the large-scale training operation for months. Police were seeking two “white males” in connection with the shooting, according to Perry County Sheriff’s Deputies.
The shots were fired around 12:10 Tuesday afternoon, Eastern Time. Fortunately, no injuries were reported and police said that they were not looking for an “active shooter.”
The conspiracy theories around the Jade Helm exercise originated in the far-right extremist circles and on the internet, but, as happens with many ideas that begin on the extreme fringe, soon found their way into mainstream conservative discussions.
According to the conspiracy theories, the Jade Helm exercises were actually the cover story for what the extremists believed would be a covert invasion of Texas and other southwestern states by the United States’ own military, and that mysterious train boxcars had been sighted equipped with “shackles” for confining and transporting political prisoners. A “kill list” of President Barack Obama’s political enemies was also prepared as part of Jade Helm, the extremists believed.
Many conspiracy theories went into greater detail, proposing that Walmart stores would be used as makeshift prisons, and that the southern states would be attacked by “weather manipulation technology.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, appeared to take the conspiracy theories seriously, and announced that he would order the Texas State Guard to “monitor” the military exercises. Another Texas Republican, United States Senator Ted Cruz — a current presidential candidate — also gave credence to the far-out theories because, he said, President Barack Obama could not be trusted.
Some conspiracy theorists even organized citizens’ militia groups to “patrol” areas where the Jade Helm operations were believed to be taking place.
Whether Tuesday’s shooting attempt is linked to those militias is not yet known. Police located a pickup truck near New Augusta, Missouri, on Tuesday that they said matched the description of the truck used in the Camp Shelby shooting, and were questioning two men Tuesday afternoon.
Front view of the vehicle recovered in 600 block of Old Augusta Road. pic.twitter.com/SNd8cTx5pV
— Ryan Moore (@RyanMooreMS) August 4, 2015
The two men were not arrested or charged as of later Tuesday, however.
The truck was a red Ford Ranger with the words “Broken Arrow” on the windshield. “Broken Arrow” is a military expression meaning that base is being overrun by enemy forces.
According to the Army Times newspaper, Camp Shelby is one of several locations where the Jade Helm maneuvers were set to take place.
[Image: United States Navy]