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.”
CONFIRMED: No active shooter at Naval Support Activity Bethesda. Was ad hoc drill by tenant command. https://t.co/P9N65mMdOA
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) November 27, 2018
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.
MCP has been called to assist with the report of a possible active shooter at the Walter Reed Nat Mil Med Ctr located at 8901 Rockville Pike. More information will be released as it is confirmed. Call received to assist – 2:23 pm.
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) November 27, 2018
I am currently at Walter Reed Medical in Bethesda where we've been told there is an active shooter. I am currently safe in a conference room w/ approx 40 others.
— Dutch Ruppersberger (@Call_Me_Dutch) November 27, 2018
Hi, this is not a drill. I'm currently at the Walter Reed Hospital and it is a code white. I am currently locked in a room, safe with all the lights off and the door is blocked off with heavy medical machines.
— Haley (@Hales_mae) November 27, 2018
Inside Walter Reed right now after the active shooter announcement. Was looking on Twitter for news and it's filled with people questioning the safety of their loved ones. Building 19 in lockdown. Haven't heard any shots. Multiple agencies responding. Hopefully false alarm. pic.twitter.com/xNDKyEuN56
— Lindsey Migliore, DO (@DrMigliore) November 27, 2018
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.
1520, UPDATE: The all clear has been given. No active shooter was found. Personnel may now move freely about the base.
— Naval Support Activity Bethesda (@nsabethesda) November 27, 2018
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.