Hours after confusion over reports of an active shooter at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, the Navy finally said late Tuesday that it was all a mistake.
Police responded to a possible active shooter at Walter Reed just after 2 p.m. and alerted the campus, which houses the largest military medical center in the country and about 7,000 staff members.
Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger confirmed the ongoing incident with a tweet just after 2:30 p.m.
“I am currently at Walter Reed Medical in Bethesda where we’ve been told there is an active shooter,” he wrote. “I am currently safe in a conference room w/ approx 40 others.”
An all clear was given around 3:25 p.m., when the Navy tweeted that the incident was an “ad hoc drill by tenant command.”
But a spokesman for Naval Support Activity Bethesda told WTOP that there was no warning of a drill.
“Military drills are definitely planned and prepared,” Jeremy Brooks said. “And if there had been a drill, then we would have put out a statement saying it was a drill and it would have been advertised as such.”
The agency also said on Twitter that the alert was “a false alarm and not part of a scheduled drill.”
Ruppersberger also tweeted there was no “indication that this was a drill.”
Around 6 p.m., the Navy issued another explanation: the event was “ the result of the improper use of a mass notification system by a tenant command aboard the installation.”
“While preparing for an upcoming drill, the notification system was inadvertently enacted without containing the words ‘EXERCISE’ or ‘DRILL,’” a statement on Twitter read.