Report of gunfire at Walter Reed was false alarm, officials say

The incident was the second false alarm in week at a US military installation. Last Thursday saw a similar false alarm at the Washington Navy Yard.

Jose Luis Magana/AP
Police officers arrive at the gate of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Monday, responding to a report of a single shot fired at the hospital. The report proved to be a false alarm.

The US Navy says that Monday's report of gunshots at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday was a false alarm, the second such at a Washington military facility in the past week.

Reports of gunfire at the Washington Navy Yard put the campus on lockdown last Thursday. In both cases, no injuries were reported or any credible evidence of a threat found.

In response to the call reporting the sound of gunfire at Walter Reed on Monday, multiple law enforcement agencies flooded the campus and employees were placed under “Code White" and told to “shelter in place.” The threat of a repeat of 2013's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, which claimed the lives of 12 people, led to heightened awareness about security risks and an increased sensitivity to reports of potential danger.

Officers cleared all 20 stories of the building at Walter Reed and found nothing, the Montgomery County Police Department reported on its Twitter account. They also did a sweep of the facility to look for explosives and came up empty-handed.

Nevertheless, police said all non-emergency patient care at the medical center was suspended for the day.

Soon after the fatal shooting in 2013, a Department of Defense Inspector General report was released detailing “critical flaws” in the security at Navy installations. The report detailed instances in which “52 convicted felons received routine, unauthorized installation access, placing military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk.” 

Following the report’s release, the US Department of Defense announced it would review the security situation at all military installations.

Walter Reed employs around 8,500 people and serves more than 1 million patients each year, according to the center's website. A Walter Reed employee told the Washington D.C.-based news station WUSA9 that they practice "Code White" every year. 

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