Panic at Walter Reed after exercise mistaken as active shooter

The Hill

Panic ensued Tuesday at Walter Reed hospital in Bethesda, Md., after an active shooter exercise was thought to be an actual shooting.

The U.S. Navy said in a tweet Tuesday that there was no shooter at the hospital and that the incident was an “ad hoc drill by tenant command.” 

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Montgomery County police said they were responding to the shooting, and all gates at the medical center were closed.

People inside the hospital wrote on Twitter that they were told there was an active shooter, raising concerns and confusion. That included Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), who said he was sheltering inside a conference room with about 40 other people.

But Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB), the base where Walter Reed is located, said amid the reports that there was no indication of an active shooter.

The base then confirmed shortly before 3:30 p.m. that no shooter had been found and that the all clear had been given.

A Navy official told The Hill that it was a scheduled active shooter exercise by tenant command of NSAB, in a section of the hospital where there are no patients.

The tenant command did not notify the installation of the exercise ahead of the drill, which took place in Building 19, or the America Building.

The official said the building’s security would normally be notified but were not this time.

There were no reports of shots and no one was injured, but the command swept the building “as they would if this was a real event,” the official said.

The hospital, once an active shooter situation was reported, “responded appropriately and reported it was an active shooter.”

The official did not say if the drill was done regularly, only that “we train all the time, we routinely train for active shooters.”

“The active shooter event aboard Naval Support Activity Bethesda today was the result of the improper use of a mass notification system by a tenant command aboard the installation,” the Navy later added.

“While preparing for an upcoming drill, the notification system was inadvertently enacted without containing the words ‘EXERCISE’ or ‘DRILL.’ Individuals who saw the mass notification statement immediately notified NSA Bethesda security, where they responded accordingly and instituted an installation-wide active shooter response. On further investigation, they determined that the improper use of the system was the root cause and secured from the active-shooter response.

3 thoughts on “Panic at Walter Reed after exercise mistaken as active shooter

  1. Like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

    When are these assholes going to learn? SHOOTING DRILLS ARE TO BE DONE ON BASES!!! NOT IN THE REAL WORLD!

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