An active shooter scare on Tuesday at the Bethesda, Maryland campus of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center turned out to be a false alarm. But the authorities thought the threat was very real, even though the Navy said on Twitter that it was only an "ad hoc drill."
WASHINGTON – Authorities at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are gathering what happened during a tense Tuesday afternoon, when an informed shooting situation turned out to be a false alarm.
It was an incident that was further complicated in social networks, at one point, the Navy said that the fear was caused by an "ad hoc drill".
"The ultimate cause of the origin of the original confusion is what is being investigated," said Jeremy Brooks, a spokesperson for the Naval Support Activity Bethesda. "It will take a little time to put it together, so we are clear about what happened, and if there was anything that could be prevented, to make sure it does not happen again."
Someone "legitimately thought there was a situation" and did the right thing by contacting security, Brooks said, "and security did the right thing and responded, because it was not reported as an exercise or simulation."
In a statement on Tuesday night, the Navy attributed the incident to the "misuse of a mass notification system".
For approximately two hours, the authorities worked to ensure the hospital occupied while patients, workers and visitors took refuge in the place.
"Military drills are definitely planned and prepared," Brooks said. "And if there had been a simulation, we would have issued a statement saying it was a simulation and that it would have been announced as such."
The incident timeline, much of which was developed on social networks, actually reflects the confusion among the authorities as they worked to secure the busy hospital.
The authorities of Walter Reed issued an alert, by email and text, around 2 p.m., indicating that there was "an active shooter in the complex." At 2:58 p.m. the Navy tweeted that they were "aware of the reports of an active shooter" But I rate it without confirmation. The Pentagon quickly retweeted that.
The navy later tweeted. at 3:25 p.m. that, in fact, there was no shooter, and that it was an "ad hoc simulation of the tenant's command". However, the Montgomery County police told WTOP that they had been called as if it were a real incident. (They referred additional questions to the NSA Bethesda.)
Officials of the NES Bethesda, however, indicated around 4 p.m. that, in fact, a security appeal had been made "with the report of an active shooter situation" in Building 19, which is the site of the Murtha Cancer Center.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger: a Democrat representing District 2 of Maryland and who was on the ground at the time of the incident – tweeted that when he and dozens of others were moved to a safe room, there was no indication that it was not real.
Walter Reed has given us the go-ahead: at no time were there any indications that it was a simulacrum.
– Dutch Ruppersberger (@Call_Me_Dutch) November 27, 2018
Others who claimed to be at the scene said that the incident was not qualified as a drill. …
That is not exact. I was there and repeated the announcements saying "not a simulacrum". The incident officials said that the message should not be sent. It was a mistake. It is not a drill.
– Tiffany | Angelle Media (@TiffAngelle) November 27, 2018
– Technoviking (@DasTechnoviking) November 27, 2018
WTO Smith's Max Smith contributed to this report.
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