updated 9/21/2006 1:24:06 PM ET 2006-09-21T17:24:06

Security was tightened Thursday at MacDill Air Force Base, home of key command centers in the U.S. war on terrorism, after two teens in a stolen car drove through a security checkpoint and were later arrested.

An investigation was under way into how the teens got past the checkpoint, which was manned Wednesday by armed guards with the authority to use deadly force, Air Force spokesman Lt. Larry van der Oord said.

“They’re military personnel, security forces airmen. They’re trained, they carry weapons at the gate and they do have that authority (to shoot), but it’s a judgment call and every situation is different,” van der Oord said.

He said the base has implemented “enhanced security procedures,” but would not elaborate. The investigation could take several days.

Tampa police first tried to stop the white Chrysler about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. The car sped away and was spotted later moving at high speed across town until it ran through one of the gates at MacDill.

Crashed into police cruiser
Tampa officers pursued the suspects onto the base and were joined in the chase by MacDill security forces. The chase ended when the teens slammed into a Tampa police cruiser.

The stolen car was on a road near sensitive military command centers, van der Oord said.

Authorities said when the vehicle crossed onto the base, it had not yet been reported stolen, and base authorities had no way of knowing who was behind the wheel.

MacDill houses both the U.S. Central Command, which oversees forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and U.S. Special Operations Command, the coordination center for elite military units such as the Green Berets and Navy SEALS.

Police arrested Davaraye Mungin and Damia Bowie, both 16, on felony charges including battery on a law enforcement officer and grand theft auto. Police said federal charges also were possible.

Minor injuries
The teens suffered minor injuries in the crash and were being held Thursday at a juvenile detention facility, said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. They had prior arrests on charges including car theft, she said.

She said the teens would make an initial appearance in court within 24 hours of their arrests. It was not immediately clear whether they had appeared before a judge or whether they had attorneys.

Pam Bondi, a spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office in Tampa, said she could not release those details because of the suspects’ ages. She said authorities were deciding whether to charge them as adults.

The pair can be held for up to 21 days before such a decision is made.

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