Wright-Patt commander: no threat, no injuries found after gunshot report

All-clear issued more than 4 hours after active shooter report.

No threat was identified at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base after a four-hour investigation triggered by a report of an active shooter at the 850,000-square-foot home of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

Wright-Patterson installation commander Col. Patrick Miller said security forces found no threat, and there were no injuries when he addressed the media around 2 a.m. Friday. No one was arrested or detained, he also said.

The NASIC building has a lot of secure spaces due to its mission, making two sweeps of the building laborious. “It has been a long night,” Miller said.

Initially, two people approached the NASIC security desk around 9:30 p.m. Thursday and reported hearing a gunshot. Lockdown followed.

“The gates shut,” Miller said. “The reason we do that is we want to make sure that everyone kind of hunkers down.”

At the time, some 100 people were working inside NASIC, which is a 24-hour operation. They barricaded themselves within, the colonel said.

Patrols responded and methodically began clearing the site, Miller said.

He credited those within the building and the safety forces at work.

“This was a very real event,” he said. “It is real until it is over.”

Speaking of those who reported hearing what they thought was a gunshot, he said, ”They did the right thing, what we are trained to do.”

Miller said officials are confident the initial report was made in good faith. He said a follow-up investigation will be conducted.

“It’s an emotional event,” he added, saying that during the lockdown, people inside the building believed that a shooter could be in the building.

In the end, no one was arrested or detained, no threat was identified, and no one was injured.

That prompted Miller to say, in the end, “Fortunately, this was a non-event for us.”

Initial report

A report around 9:30 p.m. Thursday said an active shooter was in the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in the large base’s Area A, which prompted the lockdown and the investigation, Chris Warner, command information chief of 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, said late Thursday night outside the base.

Security forces were still clearing the building as of 11:30 p.m., Warner said.

A little over an hour later at 12:44 a.m., the base tweeted that the security forces were still sweeping the building.

In an update at about 1:15 a.m., Bob Purtiman, chief of public affairs for the base’s custodian unit, the 88th Air Base Wing, said security officials continued to sweep the NASIC building, which he noted is three floors and 850,000 square feet of space.

“We owe it to everyone to take the time to get into these spaces,” he said. “That is what is taking so long.”

At around 1:30 a.m., the base issued the all-clear over the loudspeakers.

A line of about seven vehicles were not able to go through one of the gates in Area A around 10:30 p.m. as a loudspeaker alerted them to the lockdown at the base.

Some roads were shut down in the area as a result of the lockdown.

The base sent out a social media message explaining the lockdown.

A later tweet from the base said: “We understand there are concerns and questions. Our first priority is to protect our people. All of our military and civilian employees are trained to quickly assess the situation and take appropriate action.”

A third tweet just after midnight said responders remain on scene and that: “We currently do not have any updates on the situation.”

Wright State University warned students and staff on social media to avoid areas toward the north end of campus, including Kauffman Avenue and state Route 844 and to “take appropriate safety precautions to protect themselves if necessary.”

“Wright State Police have become aware of multiple reports that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base police are responding to an active shooter incident on base and have initiated lock-down procedures,” the Facebook post read.

Neighbors surrounding WPAFB heard the command center announcement on the “big voice” loudspeaker announce an active shooter and lockdown.

An alert sent to all base employees confirmed the lockdown. The loudspeaker confirmed the announcement again at 9:42 p.m.

Residents nearby at 10:10 p.m. reported hearing from the loudspeaker: “Take cover until all clear is heard.”

The neighbors said they heard the base’s “giant voice” loudspeaker public address system announcing the lockdown again at 10:27 p.m.

“Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” was broadcast again and again.

NASIC, based at Wright-Patterson, is the Department of Defense’s primary source for foreign air and space threat analysis, according to the U.S. Air Force website. The center is a field operating agency that reports to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Cyber Effects Operations.

The base has more than 30,000 personnel and indirectly supports nearly 35,000 jobs outside the fence, base estimates show.

Wright-Patterson has a more than $2.2 billion annual payroll and a $4 billion regional economic impact, base economic estimates show.

Among its biggest players, Wright-Patterson is headquarters to the Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, which test, buy and manage weapon systems.

Also located at the base are:

• The Air Force Research Laboratory, which employs thousands of scientists and engineers.

• The Air Force Institute of Technology is a post-graduate school focused on research science and national security-related studies.

• And an estimated million visitors a year trek to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, one of the most popular attractions in Ohio. The 445th Airlift Wing flies troops and cargo around the world aboard C-17 transport jets.

Wright-Patterson has prepared for such events, most recently Aug. 18 with an “active shooter” exercise where the base went into full lockdown.

The active-shooter exercise was held in the Kittyhawk portion of the base’s Area A at building 1235.

In August 2018, an “active shooter” false alarm 911 call at the base brought local police forces to the installation.

In a search after the call to base security, a security team member shot a locked door during a room-by-room sweep of the base medical center.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby