WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJZ) — Officials say an employee accidentally sent an alert for an active shooter drill to 4,000 people at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center instead of sending it to a smaller group, triggering a false report of an active shooter on campus last month.
Maryland Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Jamie Raskin met with Naval officials Tuesday to discuss the Nov. 27 lockdown at Walter Reed.
The lockdown happened after the U.S. Navy said an employee reported an active shooter in the basement of Building 19 on campus, after she got an automated message.
Ruppersberger, who was campus at the time, and Raskin were told that a service member assigned to the Naval Support Activity Bethesda campus had inadvertently sent messages stating “Exercise Active Shooter” and “Exercise Suspicious Package” to nearly 4,000 people via an emergency alert system.
The congressmen were told that the service member had not been properly trained on how to use the system and intended for the messages to only go to a small group in preparation for a future drill.
Fifteen minutes later, a clerk at the front desk of the oncology unit reported getting several automated phone messages stating “active shooter” and that they didn’t hear the words “exercise” or “drill.”
That clerk then made called authorities about an active shooter, triggering a pre-planned response to the report.
Naval officials agreed with Ruppersberger and Raskin that measures to prevent future issues include: reevaluating who can authorize users of the alert system and who can release messages, updating training requirements, recertifying alert system users, and developing the ability to provide first responders with keys, access cards, and blueprints for all buildings.