An armed man in Tennessee remained at large Monday evening after exchanging gunfire with a guard at the Watts Bar nuclear plant this weekend.
An officer patrolling outside the plant's protected area encountered the man at about 2 a.m., Sunday, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The officer was not injured. Nonetheless, the incident prompted the staffing of an NRC incident response center and an unusual event declaration that remained in place until the following afternoon. By that point, the Tennessee Valley Authority had surveyed the area by helicopter and inspected an intake pumping station, according to the NRC. The agency has dispatched two security inspectors to review TVA's response.
Chattanooga's WRCB TV offered additional details Monday, reporting that the FBI is leading the criminal investigation. A TVA spokesman told the station the guard found the person on the north bank of the Tennessee River. The suspect spoke with him briefly, then fired at least two shots from a handgun, at which point the guard returned fire and the gunman disappeared downstream in a boat. Fishing by boat is allowed on that section of the river, but possessing a firearm or landing near the plant is not.