Officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are investigating what led to Thursday’s false report of an active shooter situation on the base. The incident caused an hours-long lockdown and prompted an emergency response from multiple government and law enforcement agencies, including a SWAT team.
At least three police departments say they were not aware of yesterday’s scheduled active-shooter exercises at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. During the training, 911 calls prompted a base lockdown and massive police response.
The Fairborn Police Department received 911 calls Thursday afternoon from at least two people reporting what they thought was an active shooter at the Wright Patterson Medical Center several miles away from the training site.
At a late afternoon press conference Thursday, Wright-Patterson Commander Col. Tom Sherman said the base also received at least one 911 call.
The call triggered a lockdown that closed base entrances and stopped traffic on surrounding streets for around three hours.
“We received a 911 telephone call from an individual inside the hospital who truly believed that there was an emergent situation taking place. At that point in time any of our exercise situations immediately go into pause and we begin to respond according to the threat that was dictated to us through that 911 telephone call,” said Sherman.
Wright-Patterson officials say security forces immediately paused their training. They investigated the potential threat working their way through each floor of the medical center.
Wright-Patt tweeted an all-clear at around 3:30 p.m., saying there was no “real-world active-shooter incident” and all base personnel were safe.
Col. Sherman says all base employees were notified in advance about the active shooter training exercise. And officials were satisfied with the response.
But in the meantime, first responders from a number of state and local police and fire departments had rushed to the base.
The Dayton, Riverside and Fairborn police departments all tell WYSO they were unaware of the scheduled active shooter training when they responded to 911 calls.
It’s unclear exactly what prompted the 911 call.
Dr. Patrick Oliver, a Cedarville University criminal justice professor and a former Fairborn police chief, says ideally when agencies conduct active shooter training, notifications are issued to staff, first responders and the media.
“When planning and preparing for an active shooter training event one of the things you want to do as part of the protocol is to make notifications. You want to make notifications to people in the facility, in this case you probably want to notify people on the base. You want to notify public safety - police fire and EMS and ideally you want to notify the media.”
However, Oliver says it’s unlikely callers will be charged with making false reports if they perceived there was a real threat.
“If they thought there was an active shooter situation and they called 911, they would absolutely not be charged. That is what you’re supposed to do,” he says.
Air Force officials say the investigation into what led to Thursday’s false alarm is ongoing.