Officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base continue to investigate how an Aug. 2 training exercise turned into a mistaken active-shooter situation. They have convened an official Incident Review Board to assess what went wrong during the incident, and Republican Congressman Mike Turner met Wednesday with top brass from the 88th Air Base Wing and non-base law enforcement officials. But few details about the incident have yet been released.
Turner originally requested a briefing with 88th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Tom Sherman following the incident.
Turner called for clarity from Wright-Patterson officials about what led to false reports of an active shooter on base and told reporters the false alarm was an opportunity to assess and close gaps in security on base.
“On that day on Aug. 2 we were fortunate to be able to evade a tragedy,” he says.
The congressman couldn't offer much information about what led to the mishap, but he did say investigators have identified several factors that reflect a larger problem with Department of Defense emergency training exercise protocols.
“The to-do list, the work that needs to be done moving forward is we had an opportunity to have lessons learned that need to be captured," he says. "Some of the things that were not known as we went into the day of Aug. 2 are really not known at any facility DOD-wide."
Turner expressed his belief that the Wright-Patt incident would ultimately lead to a positive outcome.
"So we have an opportunity, with Commander Sherman, to work with our first responders in our community, to capture what we did right, what we didn’t know, and what we need to do better and with that to ensure that all of our defense facilities learn from these opportunities for the safety of our facilities. I have full confidence in Commander Sherman and the leadership at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and their ability, and their commitment, in working with the local community to make our facilities safer.”
The issues Turner alluded to were largely related to communication problems between the base and local law enforcement, says Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer.
“Part of the communications breakdown is we don’t talk the same language that necessarily the military talks, so, you know, we have to work these things out, so we’ll just move forward from there.”
At least three police departments near Wright-Patt told WYSO after the false alarm that they were not aware of scheduled base training exercises. The incident prompted a base-wide lockdown and activated first responders from around the region.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting were police officials from Montgomery County, Fairborn and Huber Heights. Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, Capt. Steve Holcomb with the Fairborn Police Department, and Huber Heights Fire Chief Mark Ashworth, all said they believed the early August incident would lead to positive outcomes for the community and DOD protocols. An official from the federal Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives department was also on hand.
Officials gave no timeline for when results of the Incident Review Board investigation could be released.