Advertisement
  1. Military

MacDill trespasser spent weekend in congressman's office in 2003

Federal prosecutors say Suzanne Jensen has sneaked into MacDill four times since late 2012.
Published Aug. 8, 2013

TAMPA — Suzanne M. Jensen apparently doesn't find post-Sept. 11 government security as daunting as most Americans.

The homeless woman charged with sneaking into MacDill Air Force Base four times since 2012 was arrested by U.S. Capitol police in 2003 after she thwarted security and spent a weekend in a congressman's office.

The arrest wasn't mentioned Wednesday during a brief hearing in Tampa where a federal judge ordered a mental competency hearing for Jensen for the MacDill charges for Aug. 21.

That's Jensen's 51st birthday.

Capitol police said Jensen simply walked into the unlocked office of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., at the Capitol's Longworth building during business hours on a Friday in 2003. Nobody spotted her.

Jensen wasn't disturbed until Sunday afternoon, published reports of the incident said, when a staffer for Nunes couldn't get into the office.

Jensen had locked the door. The staffer called police.

"We know she must have been there quite awhile because she ate everything we had in the refrigerator," Nunes told the Visalia (Calif.) Times-Delta.

Jensen was charged with unlawful entry, according to 2003 stories by the Times-Delta and USA Today. The disposition of the case could not be immediately determined.

Federal prosecutors charged Jensen in June for trespassing on MacDill four times since Oct. 1. In one instance, Jensen told security officers she entered the high-security installation by simply using an overturned trash can to climb a wall.

But Jensen wasn't arrested on a federal warrant for those charges until July 29 by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Details about how deputies found Jensen were unavailable, said sheriff's officials there.

Jensen is being held without bail pending her competency hearing. A federal prosecutor told federal Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli that she had reason to believe Jensen wasn't able to understand legal proceedings against her.

Jensen's public defender, Stephen Baer, told the judge that the case may have "national security implications." But he did not explain, and lawyers declined to comment afterward.

Jensen has a history of entering military bases. In August 2012, she pleaded guilty to trespassing for illegally entering Fort Myer in Virginia. She was sentenced to time served. In 2007, she was charged with illegally entering Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, both in North Carolina. Charges were later dismissed.

Why Jensen traveled to Colorado is a mystery.

Colorado Springs happens to be the home of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the alma mater of MAcDill commander Col. Scott DeThomas.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Honor guard soldiers salute as the urn containing the ashes of Maj. Albert L. Mitchell, U.S. Army (Retired) is seen during a ceremony Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The ashes were found in a St. Petersburg attic. Nine years after his death, a soldier is buried with honors at Bay Pines National Cemetery.
  2. Patriot Guard Riders Floyd Anderson (right of center), from Riverview, and (right) Henry Hyde, from Fort Myers, embrace after the funeral for Edward K. Pearson on October 1 at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota.  Mr. Pearson was not believed to have left any family behind, so the public was invited to attend. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Edward Pearson Sr. had two sons. Their father walked out on them when they were teens. Years later, they were told he was dead.
  3. (left to right) Trevor Yarborough, 17, Kadie Weston, 17, and Connor Gadson-Yarbrough, 18, supervise their NJROTC classmates while preparing for the Iron Bear Challenge at Robinson High School in Tampa. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Many of America’s future soldiers are too young to have a personal connection to the terror attacks or the war in Afghanistan that followed.
  4. Edward K. Pearson's remains are carried in for his funeral on October 1, 2019 at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.  Mr. Pearson did not leave any family behind, so the public was invited to attend. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    An estimated 1,500 people showed up at the ceremony held for Edward K. Pearson.
  5. The KC-135s are the main aircraft for the 6th Air Mobility Wing soon to be redesignated as the 6th Air Refueling Wing. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The 6th Air Mobility Wing celebrates its 100th anniversary while getting a redesignation
  6. A F/A-18A Hornet, assigned to the U.S. Navy flight demonstration team the “Blue Angels,” makes a pass past the crowd at the 2004 Joint Service Open House. Courtesy of Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain
    MacDill Air Force Base will host Navy aircraft for three weeks beginning Oct. 1
  7. Army veteran Edward K. Pearson died in Naples with no living relatives. A social media campaign that swept the country is expected to bring crowds to his interment at a Sarasota military cemetery. Photo from Patricia Thrasher's Facebook
    The national political community is rallying around the story of Edward K. Pearson.
  8. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Macguire was heading up a charity helping wounded warriors when he was tapped last year to join the intelligence community in Washington. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    The retired vice admiral and Navy SEAL helped raise millions for wounded warriors as leader of a Tampa-based foundation.
  9. A homeless Vietnam War veteran in Clearwater answers questions for a Pinellas County homeless survey. A shortage of affordable housing is considered a major cause of homelessness among vets in the Tampa Bay area. [Times files]
    Local agency leaders called on members of Congress to increase national affordable housing options as a solution to veteran homelessness
  10. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer drops from a helicopter during a training exercise off Honeymoon Island State Park in 2012. Jim Damaske
    The bizarre threat and fakes calls for help are being transmitted over marine radio. It sounds like the same man, the Coast Guard said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement