CINCINNATI (AP) — An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office Thursday, then fled and was injured in an exchange of gunfire in an hours-long standoff with law enforcement that persisted into late afternoon, authorities said.
The confrontation that began at the FBI’s Cincinnati office came as officials warned of an increase in threats against federal agents in the days following a in Florida.
Federal officials said the man “attempted to breach” the visitor’s screening area at the FBI office and fled when agents confronted him. After fleeing onto Interstate 71, he was spotted by a trooper and fired shots as the trooper pursued him, said Lt. Nathan Dennis, a Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesperson.
The suspect left the interstate north of Cincinnati and abandoned his car on rural roads, where he exchanged gunfire with police. The man has “unknown injuries,” but no one else was hurt, the patrol said.
The standoff remained in progress as of midafternoon Thursday near roads bordered by woods and farm fields just off I-71 and about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Cincinnati. State highway workers blocked off roads leading to the scene as a helicopter flew over the area.
Officials in Ohio have locked down a mile radius near the interstate and urged residents and business owners to lock doors and stay inside. The interstate has been reopened.
There have been growing threats in recent days against FBI agents and offices across the country since federal agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. On Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites, users have warned they are preparing for an armed revolution.
Federal officials have also been tracking an array of other concerning chatter on Gab and other platforms threatening violence against federal agents. FBI Director Christopher Wray denounced the threats as he visited another FBI office in Nebraska on Wednesday.
“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with,” Wray
The FBI on Wednesday also warned its agents to avoid protesters and ensure their security key cards are “not visible outside FBI space,” citing an increase in social media threats to bureau personnel and facilities. It also warned agents to be aware of their surroundings and potential protesters.
The warning did not specifically mention this week’s search of Mar-a-Lago but attributed the online threats to “recent media reporting on FBI investigative activity.”