Colorado man arrested after attempting to enter Air Force base, driving to school in minivan strapped with propane tanks, police say

A Colorado man was arrested Tuesday after police said he tried to enter a U.S. Air Force base in a minivan loaded with propane tanks, and then drove to a nearby school when he could not make entry.

Jacqueline Kirby, spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, said the unidentified man was arrested around 3 p.m., less than a mile from the northern gate of Peterson Air Force base.

She said that the man appeared to be having a “mental-health crisis,” and that after being turned away from the base, he drove to a nearby school.

Amos Velasquez, assistant principal and commandant at the Colorado Military Academy, said that a school counselor saw the van carrying propane tanks strapped to the roof and contacted him immediately.

Velasquez approached the driver, who he said “was pretty erratic;” he noticed propane tanks on top and electrical equipment and wiring inside the worn-down white minivan.

Velasquez said the man told him that he was trying to reach someone at NORAD, and held up a phone with wires hanging down.

The headquarters of NORAD is just inside the air base near the north gate.

NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) is a joint U.S.-Canadian command that defends the skies over both countries. Northern Command is responsible for the defense of the U.S. mainland.

Velasquez told the man he had to leave the parking lot or he’d call police, which prompted him to reverse quickly and speed away.

Velasquez then called the sheriff’s office to report the incident.

Kirby said that no explosives were found when he was arrested, and the man will not be charged.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.