By Clay Wilson
Local police and Homeland Security officials are continuing the hunt for a man who was reportedly seen taking pictures of the Federal Aviation Administration facility in Hampton on Thursday.
Hampton Police Chief Bud Smith said a witness spotted a Jeep parked on Woolsey Road near the FAA building. The facility, which employs hundreds of workers, handles high-altitude air traffic control for eight southeastern states.
The witness reported that the Jeep's occupant, a man of Middle Eastern or Asian descent, appeared to be taking pictures of the FAA building and a nearby daycare center. When the witness approached, the Jeep drove away.
According to Georgia Department of Homeland Security spokesman Buzz Weiss, the witness was an off-duty police officer. The officer copied down the Jeep's tag number, but since he was in his personal vehicle was unable to stop the Jeep.
The Hampton Police Department issued a lookout around 2:45 p.m. Friday for a Jeep Cherokee. The lookout went to police in Henry and several surrounding counties.
On Monday, Hampton Police Investigator Billy Ward said police are unsure what state the car is from. He said authorities had run the plate in Louisiana and California, which have plates similar to the off-duty officer's description of the Jeep's plate.
Those checks, however, so far have come back "not on file." Ward said authorities would continue to try and trace the owner through the tag number.
"We're just having to slowly go through the process of contacting every state," he said.
Meanwhile, so far no one has reported seeing the vehicle.
"We're just kind of sitting in limbo now," Ward said.
Weiss said that while the Department of Homeland Security regularly receives numerous reports of suspicious activity, officials are still taking this one seriously.
"Any situation like this where you see someone taking pictures of a critical facility, it raises our concerns," he said. "At this point there is no obvious threat, but certainly this is a situation of interest.
"This individual is not a suspect in anything, but we'd certainly like to talk to this individual to resolve some questions."