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Mo. gunman arrested after chase, campus lockdown

ROLLA, Mo. —A gunman barged onto an Army base, exchanged gunfire with police on I-44, and then caused a lockdown at the Missouri University of Science & Technology before he was arrested Thursday south of Rolla.

Cody Willcoxson, 31, is accused of driving into Fort Leonard Wood without permission, then leading military police on a short chase before speeding off the base.

The Missouri Highway Patrol indicated that Willcoxson may have mistakenly driven to the base's west gate and drove onto Army property "in a panic" after guards denied him access.

Willcoxson, 31, then allegedly fired an AK-47 at officers along I-44 during the high-speed pursuit. No one was hurt.

Willcoxson tried to elude capture by fleeing through downtown Rolla and the university campus. He crashed his car, ran into a building on the campus carrying the weapon and then ran into a nearby residential area. There, he burst into a home, stole the resident's car keys and sped off again, authorities said.

Rolla Police Chief Mark Kearse told the Associated Press that police found crystal methamphetamine in Willcoxson's abandoned car. Police found the discarded AK-47 under a car nearby.

Willcoxson was stopped in the stolen car on a dead-end gravel road in a wooded rural area about 16 miles south of Rolla. Sgt. Dan Crain of the Missouri Highway Patrol said he was taken into custody "basically without incident" by two troopers who boxed him into the car. No shots were fired during the arrest.

Willcoxson was treated at a hospital for minor injuries he received in the chase and crash of his vehicle.

The Missouri University of Science & Technology locked down the campus just before 9 a.m. and warned on its website that students, staff and faculty should "secure buildings and stay indoors until we give the all clear."

Lacy Freistaedter, a secretary in the freshmen engineering department, said she saw the gunman walk into McNutt Hall.

The gun "was big," Freistaedter said. "He had two hands on it."

Willcoxson, of Southwest City, Mo., in the corner of the state, was charged later Thursday in Pulaski County Circuit Court with first-degree assault on law enforcement officers, resisting arrest and armed criminal action. His bail was set at $1 million.

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