LUBBOCK, Texas — An Arizona man is accused of forcing off the road a National Guard convoy transporting COVID-19 vaccines in West Texas and then holding 11 guard members at gunpoint.
Larry Harris, 66, of Willcox, Arizona, told police that he stopped three vans because he believed people inside them had kidnapped a woman and child, authorities said. None of the National Guard members were injured, and Harris was arrested Tuesday morning when police responded to the scene.
Police say Harris followed the three National Guard vans from a gas station and tried multiple times to run them off the roadway before turning his vehicle into oncoming traffic to stop them.
“Harris pointed a gun at a National Guard Soldier, identified himself as a detective, and demanded to search the vehicles,” according to a statement from Idalou Police Chief Eric C. Williams.
He then ordered the guard members out of their vehicles at gunpoint, police said.
Idalou police and deputies from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Police say Harris had three loaded guns.
Idalou Police Chief Eric Williams said Tuesday that he did not know on what Harris based his kidnapping idea, but that he was talking erratically when he was taken into custody.
State law sets out a procedure where a judge, a jail official or a suspect’s attorney can request a mental health examination, said Lubbock County Assistant District Attorney Ashley Davis. However, Davis did not know if that has been done with Harris.
Michelle Daniel, a Lubbock County Detention Center spokeswoman, declined to reveal if a mental examination had been requested.
Harris was arrested on charges of 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. He remained jailed Tuesday on $44,000 bond and had a federal hold on his custody. Jail records list no attorney for him.
U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Erin Dooley said she had no details on the matter.