Documents: Special Forces soldier in barricade at National Guard armory had gone AWOL

A Special Forces soldier arrested at a National Guard facility in Baltimore County on Monday had been absent without leave from his unit since September, according to court documents.

Charles J. Muchanic, 43, of Virginia allegedly tripped an alarm at the Gunpowder Military Reservation about 11 a.m. Monday, starting a standoff with heavily armed police that lasted several hours. He was charged with trespassing and released on $7,500 bail.


Muchanic could not be reached for comment Tuesday and had no attorney listed in online records.

National Guard spokesman Col. Charles S. Kohler said a full-time soldier responded to the alarm Monday and confronted Muchanic. Muchanic refused to leave the building, Kohler said.


The other soldier called police, who responded to the facility in force, after being told that Muchanic had access to the weapons vault there, an officer wrote in court papers.

The 244-acre facility with training grounds off Notchcliff Road houses a firing range, a navigation course and obstacles.

Muchanic turned out to be unarmed and did not have access to the weapons, which were locked with a code, a police spokeswoman said. He eventually agreed to come out of the building and was sent for a medical evaluation.

Kohler said Muchanic is a sergeant first class with B Company, 2nd battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, which is based at the facility. Muchanic began his military career in 1997 with the New Jersey National Guard, Kohler said. He then joined the active-duty Army in 1998 and deployed to Iraq several times before leaving the service in 2005. He enlisted with the Maryland Guard in 2010.

Kohler said Muchanic could face military discipline in addition to criminal charges. Officials are trying to determine why he was at the armory.

"We're concerned about all aspects of his actions, what happened and what caused him to act in this matter," Kohler said.

Going AWOL from the National Guard, which drills only part of the time, is not quite the same as wandering off from the active-duty Army. Kohler said it's impractical for the guard to try to arrest missing soldiers.

Court documents show Muchanic has faced other problems in recent months.


In December, a manager at a car rental agency filed charges alleging that Muchanic had failed to bring back a Chevrolet Cruze and his insurance company had stopped making payments. The address on Muchanic's driver's license was his father's and he had not lived there for six months, according to the complaint.

Andrew Soles, the rental agency manager, said Muchanic did bring the car back eventually. The case was dropped.

"He was very apologetic," Soles said. "He kept saying he was going through a tough time, he didn't mean to do this to us."

Muchanic also faces a drug possession charge in Baltimore City stemming from an incident Jan. 19, online records show. He is due in court on that case next week.

Special Forces soldiers are trained to carry out complex missions including counterterrorism operations, guerrilla warfare and efforts to train foreign fighters. Most Special Forces units are part of the active-duty Army, but the 19th and 20th groups are in the National Guard. The 20th Special Forces Group, headquartered in Alabama, has units in Maryland and seven other states.

Kohler has said guard leaders will assess whether the incident revealed any weaknesses in the facility's security.