7 things to remember about Wright-Patt false active shooter scenario

Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

Breaking down a confusing situation involving an active shooter report at Wright-Patt Air Force Base.

New findings about the false active shooter incident on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in August will be released Wednesday.

Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, will brief the findings of the Incident Review Board he ordered to examine all aspects of the Aug. 2 active shooter incident that occurred at the Wright-Patt Medical Center.

Here are seven things you need to remember about the active shooter response at Wright-Patt:

Content Continues Below

1. Confusion amid an active shooter drill caused a “real-world” response. 

Few new details have emerged in the months since the active shooter scare at the base’s medical center. On Aug. 2, chaos erupted on base after a report of an active shooter at the hospital in Area A. 

About a half mile from the hospital in the Kittyhawk area of Area A, base personnel were conducting a planned installation exercise that involved an active shooter scenario. The exercise had been published to all base personnel ahead of time. It involved brightly colored, clearly fake weapons and no real or simulated gunfire, base spokesperson Daryl Mayer said.

That exercise stopped immediately with the news of the active shooter at the medical center, said Daryl Mayer, base spokesperson.

Wright-Patterson 911 Caller: ‘Help! Help!…active shooter’

2. Calls into 9-1-1 caused a widespread response from law enforcement agencies. 

Around 12:40 p.m. Thursday, someone at Wright-Patterson called 911 and that call was routed through the base’s command center. The call caused all base gates to temporarily close and resulted in upwards of 100 local, state and federal law enforcement officers to respond.

An employee with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base shared a photo of four bullet holes in a wall that were fired while her and three other employees were barricaded in the room during an active shooter alert on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
 

3. Shots were fired, and one person was injured during the incident. 

During their sweep of the medical center Thursday, a law enforcement member discharged a firearm in an attempt to breach a locked door, Col. Thomas Sherman said during a press conference. Officials have not confirmed how many shots were fired after initially saying just one. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, called the use of a firearm to breach a door “highly unusual and highly questionable.”

Photos circulating on social media that were obtained by this newspaper appear to show bullet-sized holes in a wall inside a medical center room.

Base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said a “defender” suffered a minor laceration during the incident and returned to work the next day. Initially, base officials said no one was hurt during the incident. 

“I can confirm that one of our defenders was injured during the incident; however since the investigation is on-going, I cannot comment on any specifics,” a spokeswoman told this newspaper. 

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Thursday, Aug. 2, after a reported active shooter situation that was later determined to be not credible. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF(Staff Writer)

4. Similar incidences have occurred at other military installations. 

At least nine U.S. military installations have reported active shooter false alarms in the past three years, but none like the chaos that unfolded at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Aug. 2. 

At Travis Air Force Base in northern California and Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews, active shooter drills directly played a role in how the false alarms were initially reported.

Read about how active shooter false alarms have happened at other bases. 

5. Legislators reacted about the incident. 

Turner said the use of a firearm by base security officials would “absolutely” be part of what officials would look at when scrutinizing the response to a false alarm that lasted more than three hours on Thursday. 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said that when it comes to the active shooter scare “we don’t know the full story yet.” Investigators should only refrain from releasing certain details of the incident in the interest of national security or if they could personally harm law enforcement, he said.

6. The medical center has more than 2,000 employees. 

Wright-Patterson Medical Center was originally built in 1956. Most recently the hospital underwent $99 million in renovations that started in January 2012. 

What you need to know about the base medical center 

The medical center is the second largest in the United States Air Force. The center has about a $140 million budget, 2,100 employees and treats tens of thousands of patients every year. The hospital has more than 4,000 annual admissions, according to its license.

This isn’t the first gun scare at the hospital. A man attempted to commit suicide at the hospital in June 2011 when he fired a gun in the emergency room. The man, described as appearing intoxicated or distraught, entered the emergency room with a 9 mm handgun at 6:30 p.m. June 11, 2011.

7. The review is expected to answer major questions. 

Sherman and the review board he ordered are looking to answer why the false alarm happened in the first place and how best they can respond next time. The board is conducting a “holistic” review of the incident but Sherman said it will specifically look at everything from “the timeline of events from start to finish to how do we manage our exercise processes and was that something that potentially influenced this.”

That use of a firearm to breach a door has also been under investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Col. Thomas P. Sherman, Commander, 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during a meeting with Cox Media Group Ohio in September, 2018. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)