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How False Active Shooter Report at Walter Reed Happened

It was a notification error, official says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 27, 2018 7:12 PM CST
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is seen on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in Bethesda Md.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – A mass notification error led to reports of an active shooter Tuesday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, the US Navy said. In a statement, the Navy said that the Naval Support Activity Bethesda notification system was inadvertently activated while preparing for an upcoming drill, without the words "exercise" or "drill." People who saw the notification contacted security at the Maryland base, which launched an active shooter response, the AP reports. NSA Bethesda spokesman Jeremy Brooks said the incident "was an accident. It was not something that was planned." NSA Bethesda tweeted at 2:15pm that an active shooter had been reported in the basement of a building. The all clear came about an hour later, after security found "no indication" of an active shooter, according to NSA Bethesda.

After the all clear, the US Navy tweeted that an "ad hoc drill" had been conducted at the base, but Brooks said there was no drill. "It was a genuine false alarm and not intended to cause any harm," Brooks said. US Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, who had tweeted that he and about 40 other people were in a hospital conference room when the shooter was reported, said he'd be following up on the cause of the confusion. "People were scared and upset. Drills are important and today was a valuable learning experience for me, but training exercises must be properly communicated," he wrote. The Montgomery County Police Department also responded to the call, sending units after a request for assistance in what seemed like a legitimate report of an active shooter, spokeswoman Lucille Baur said. Walter Reed is the nation's largest military hospital.

(Read more Walter Reed Army Medical Center stories.)

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