Redstone says active shooter calls were false alarm - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Redstone says active shooter calls were false alarm

Gate 9 closed during emergency lockdown (Source: WAFF) Gate 9 closed during emergency lockdown (Source: WAFF)
Scene outside Gate 9 (Source: WAFF) Scene outside Gate 9 (Source: WAFF)
Huntsville police on the scene (Source: WAFF) Huntsville police on the scene (Source: WAFF)
Employees asked to keep hands raised during evacuation (Source: WAFF) Employees asked to keep hands raised during evacuation (Source: WAFF)

Redstone Arsenal officials say Tuesday's 911 calls about an active shooter were a false alarm.

Col. Tom Holliday, garrison commander, said they received two 911 calls about a possible active shooter at the Sparkman Center. The facility was put on lockdown and investigated.

Holliday confirmed there was no shooter found and no injuries. He said there was no evidence that any shots were fired.

Normal operations resumed shortly before 1 p.m.

The military's Criminal investigation Division investigated.

On Wednesday, Redstone officials released the following statement:

After a review of yesterday's incident, the Criminal Investigation Division deemed it a false alarm, with someone reporting what they thought sounded like a gunshot.

Because the safety of the workforce is a top priority, Redstone Arsenal leadership took the threat seriously and acted accordingly to thoroughly and orderly clear the building. Training and preparation for these incidents paid off; the system worked, due in large part to the partnerships and mutual cooperation the arsenal shares with local, state and federal authorities.

Everyone plays a role in workplace safety. Redstone leadership continues to encourage the workforce to maintain situational awareness and vigilance. 

Holliday said this is an isolated incident and that the initial callers claimed they heard shots and saw a possible gunman. He said that information was found to not be credible. He said initial 911 reports like this can sometimes be confused and in this case, they were.

Holliday said the evacuation and lockdown were warranted to ensure safety. He said "given the situation in the country," they would rather "overreact than underreact."

"When it comes to safety and security of our workforce, our system worked. That was proven today," he said.

Holliday expressed gratitude for the local, state and federal responders who secured the area. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, responded to the scene.

“I believe we saw very clearly that the reaction of our first responders was spot on," he said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle released a statement Tuesday afternoon and talked about the first responders who were on the scene ready to assist. 

“I am proud of Huntsville police officers, HEMSI, Fire & Rescue and our public safety network for their quick help in assisting our Redstone partners,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “Our officers worked hand in hand with Team Redstone to secure facilities and monitor gates. Strong cooperation for a strong community.”

Holliday said there was a previously scheduled active shooter training drill scheduled this week, but that has been cancelled. He said the drill was not connected to Tuesday's emergency response.

“We believe we learned everything we need to," he said of Tuesday's incident.

The Marshall Space Flight Center sent an alert at 10 a.m. Tuesday warning that a "situation exists near the Sparkman Center, RSA building. 5301." The message asked for people to avoid the area.

[LISTEN: Witness describes situation inside the Arsenal]

A second message sent at 10:30 a.m. read: "An active shooter has been reported at the RSA Sparkman Center. Personnel in this area take protective action now. This is not a drill."

A woman who works in the building said she thought it was a drill at first. That changed within minutes as the building was surrounded by law enforcement and people were carried out on stretchers.

This witness, LaToya Eggleston, said people inside started calling loved ones.

"Everything just kind of froze at that time, and it just seemed like it was unreal, just out of the movies," she said.

Officials say those people were carried because of heat and difficulty leaving the building rather than from any violence.

"I think a couple of us will be on alert tomorrow in returning back to the buildings but just still grateful that no one was hurt, no one was injured, and glad that it was just a hoax," Eggleston said.

The Redstone Arsenal is a military installation in northern Alabama. The United States Materiel Command, the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center all operate within the post.

It is most well-known for its NASA facilities, where engineers test rocket propulsion.

It is home to 36,000 - 40,000 personnel per day.

An active shooter drill was planned for tomorrow, however, officials tell us the current situation is not part of the drill.

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