Navy blames mass notification mistake for active-shooter scare at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland

  • The US Navy says a mistake in issuing a mass notification is to blame for a frantic active-shooter scare at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
  • A notification for an active shooter drill did not include the words “EXERCISE” or “DRILL” and triggered a full response from various law enforcement agencies.
  • The statement comes after agencies had released several mixed messages as some confirmed the scene was all clear and the situation was a drill, but police remained on the scene.

The US Navy says a mistake in issuing a mass notification is to blame for a frantic active-shooter scare at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Tuesday.

Hours after a frenzy of reports of an active shooter caused a two-hour lockdown at the hospital, the Navy released a statement saying a drill notification was sent out to officials that did not include the words “EXERCISE” or “DRILL.” The statement said the notification triggered a full response to what police and security thought was an active-shooter situation.

Doctors and patients were held on lockdown Tuesday afternoon as authorities responded to the Bethesda, Maryland complex.

Pentagon spokesperson LTC Audricia Harris told INSIDER Tuesday afternoon that the “event was an exercise” and the US Navy tweeted that it was “an ad hoc drill” less than an hour after they had tweeted reports of an active shooter.

Montgomery County Police confirmed to INSIDER they responded to reports of an active shooter at the Bethesda, Maryland hospital and officers remained on the scene after the all-clear was announced.

Naval Support Bethesda, where Walter Reed is housed, tweeted that authorities responded to the basement of Building 19, which is near Wisconsin Avenue on the west end of the campus.

Less than an hour after the base said the campus was on lockdown as authorities investigated reports of an active shooter, subsequent tweets said security had cleared the building’s basement and no active shooter was found.

The base later released a summary of the activity that stood in contrast to statements from the Pentagon and US Navy, as it classified the incident as a “false alarm.”

Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger tweeted that he was held with 40 others in a conference room as authorities flooded the scene, during which he wrote there was no indication the situation was a drill.

Ruppersberger tweeted a statement in which he vowed to follow up on the incident, which he said made many who were at the medical center “scared and upset.”

Earlier in the day, some tweeted emergency alerts that they had received and videos of police on the campus. A video from Georgetown University Medical Center resident Lindsey Migliore showed officers with guns filing across a lawn on the campus.

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