Wright-Patt suspect fails to appear in court; arraignment rescheduled

A Beavercreek man accused of causing a security breach that led to an hours-long employee evacuation of two buildings at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base did not appear Wednesday for a scheduled court arraignment on federal charges.

Edward J. Novak, 32, contacted U.S. District Court officials just prior to his expected arraignment and informed them he was “physically unable” to appear before Magistrate Michael J. Newman, an official told this newspaper.

Speaking in the courtroom in downtown Dayton, authorities indicated the arraignment would be rescheduled to April. Officials said they do not know if Novak has an attorney; no representative appeared on his behalf during court proceedings Wednesday and the court record gives no indication he has a lawyer to represent him.

Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said because the court was notified Novak would not be at the hearing, a bench warrant was not issued for his arrest. “Because the court was notified, this is not considered a failure to appear, and thus it is not normal protocol to issue an arrest warrant,” she wrote in an email.

Federal authorities have alleged Novak drove onto the base without authorization Nov. 24 after he disobeyed a sentry’s orders at Gate 22B near Interstate 675. Base employees eventually stopped the suspect after he got inside a restricted-access building in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate, authorities have said.

The ensuing police investigation caused about a three-hour long evacuation of two buildings, a “shelter-in-place” order at a nearby child care center, and temporarily blocked roads on and off the base. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, area police agencies, the Wright Patterson Fire Department, and an Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal team were among the agencies that responded to the incident.

The suspect did not carry weapons on himself or inside the vehicle he drove onto the base, authorities have said.

In December, the U.S. Attorney’s office filed charges in federal court against Novak of trespassing, assault, operating a vehicle under the influence, inducing panic, making false alarms, failure to comply with a lawful order, fleeing and eluding a police officer, and disorderly conduct, according to court records.