Family Member of Air Force Base Gunman: “We Can’t Wrap Our Minds Around It”

Larry McElroy_-7248157454180530016
JACKSONVILLE, AR – The image the public has come to think of when picturing 43-year-old Larry McElroy is a mug shot and as the gunman in an “active threat” at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

But one family member we spoke with says Larry was a person with a warm smile and a heart as big as Texas, with possible mental health issues they weren’t aware of.

“We can’t wrap our minds around it.,” said Legenia McElroy, the first cousin of Larry McElroy.

“We were born just days apart,” she said. “Our family referred to us as twins. He was my favorite person in the whole world.”

And for McElroy the mug shot that people have come to associate with her Larry, isn’t the Larry she knew him to be.

“No, I didn’t even recognize him in that picture,” she said. “Everyone keeps saying he’s psychotic or a terrorist or a lunatic who wanted to hurt people. We never saw any meanness from him, he would never harm a fly.”

Speaking to us by phone, Legenia shared memories of her closest friend and kindest comrade.

“That wonderful smile, those blue eyes and the sweetest face. I just want to put my arms around, kiss and hold and never let go,” she said, of what she thinks of when she pictures Larry.

For his family members, 43-year-old McElroy was more than just a gunman shot and killed at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“He was an all around terrific, great guy. Had the heart as big as Texas. loved everybody.” she said.

He was a husband, son and grandson who Legenia thinks was caught up in a state of crisis.

“Whatever was going on in his mind it was real to him; he thought he was protecting him, his home and his wife,” she said. “I understand that he posed a threat, and I understand those officers were protecting people. I just don’t understand why he had to die.”

She isn’t sure what more she or anyone could have done, given she wasn’t aware of the seriousness of his condition. She shared a picture of them together in January where he is happy and smiling.

But she believes multiple calls to law enforcement show a man who needed help. One report to Pulaski County Sheriff’s office, that same month the picture was taken, depicted a man paranoid that members of the base were spying on him.

We have received reports that Monday’s incident wasn’t the first time McElroy came into contact with members on base, with some sources telling us he had been escorted from the base in previous incidents.

A Little Rock Air Force Base spokesperson responded to questions about those incidents, saying the case is an open investigation under the direction of the FBI and nothing could be confirmed or denied at this point regarding any previous interactions base personnel may have had with Larry McElroy

“If I could go back and do anything to help you to have kept this from happening. I would,” she said, of what she would say to Larry.

Legenia hopes Larry’s legacy can go beyond what happened at the Air Force Base on Monday, to help save lives without someone like Larry dying in the process.

“If it’s happening to other people their lives could be saved and this not happen somebody needs to do something to help them,” she said.

According to family members, Larry McElroy suffered a gunshot wound to the head. The FBI confirmed he died around 9 p.m. Tuesday night. The family is asking for prayers and compassion as they grieve and wrap their head around the events that led to Larry’s death.

Fox16 News has confirmed Larry McElroy was enlisted with the Arkansas Army National Guard between 1990 and 1991. He was honorably discharged. He attempted to enlist again in 1997, but he failed to meet the enlistment requirements at that time.

To follow this story and all of Marci Manley’s coverage, click here for Facebook or here for Twitter

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Don't Miss

Trending Stories