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UPDATE: Veteran jailed after arrested with gun at Illinois VA hospital

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 3:21 p.m. CDT; updated 3:49 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ST. LOUIS — An Army veteran remained jailed Wednesday after he was arrested with a loaded handgun outside an Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital where he warned a nurse he was armed and was "going to fill that place with lead," court documents show.

Mark Harmon, 29, of Shawneetown, Ill., told a nurse by telephone late last Thursday that he was headed to her workplace at the VA hospital in the southern Illinois city of Marion, according to an affidavit filed in court by Roy Thompson, acting chief of the site's police force.

"I have a glock, and I'm going to fill that place with lead," he told the nurse, according to the affidavit.

Within hours, Harmon was arrested after he went to the VA property and tried to bypass awaiting police with his pickup truck, in which authorities found a loaded Glock 23 semiautomatic handgun, a magazine filled with 13 bullets and 13 loose rounds of ammunition, Thompson wrote.

Court papers do not detail what grievance Harmon may have had with the VA hospital.

Messages left Wednesday with Thompson, the VA hospital's spokeswoman, Harmon's court-appointed public defender and his father were not immediately returned.

Federal prosecutors have charged Harmon with one count of possessing a firearm on federal property with the intent to commit a crime. A hearing that could decide whether he'll be eligible for bond was scheduled for Friday.

During a brief court appearance Tuesday in Benton, Ill., Harmon waived his preliminary hearing and was granted a public defender. In a financial affidavit, Harmon lists himself as a full-time student and divorced father of two who during the past year has drawn $2,700 in financial aid.

Harmon, an army specialist, was released from active duty in May 2007 and had been stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., army records show. It was not immediately known if he had served in Iraq or elsewhere overseas.

His threats have gotten him in trouble before. In June 2007 in Shawneetown, Harmon went to his father's home armed with an assault rifle and handgun, then threatened his parents and any police who tried to intervene, the town's Police Chief Robert Patton said Wednesday.

Prescribed medication Harmon had taken caused him to nod off, enabling his parents to sneak out to safety, Patton said. With the house surrounded by heavily armed police, Harmon was awakened when the telephone rang, noticed he was alone and bolted from the house before being quickly arrested outside, Patton said.

"This was all a big misunderstanding," Harmon's ex-wife, Ashley Price, told television station WSIL of Carterville, Ill., at the time.

The Gallatin County state's attorney did not return calls seeking comment, and it wasn't immediately clear if Harmon was charged in that case.


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