Congressman Turner calls for investigation of Wright-Patt active shooter response

A Dayton congressman called the use of a firearm to breach a door during an active shooter scare at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Thursday “highly unusual and highly questionable.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, 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.

“I’m certain that that’s part of the information that everyone wants to hear as we get the local law enforcement offices together with the base to say how could that even happen, it does seem like an implausible outcome,” Turner said Friday.

“There could have been tragedy even when there wasn’t a real threat,” he said.

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The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations is investigating the active shooter call at Wright-Patterson that temporarily closed all gates and drew responses from upwards of 100 local, state and federal law enforcement officers.

At the time the incident started, regularly scheduled exercises that included active shooter training were going on about a half-mile away from the medical center, base officials said.

About 12:40 p.m., someone from inside the Wright-Patterson Medical Center called 911 and that call was routed through the base’s command center.

The call will not be released until after an investigation is completed, said base spokeswoman Marie Vanover. The Dayton Daily News has submitted a request for the 911 call in accordance with federal law.

The probe also will include how the base’s security forces responded to the incident. After the unreleased 911 call came in, security forces and the base fire department responded and conducted a sweep of the building.

During the sweep, security forces discharged a firearm in an attempt to breach a locked door, Col. Thomas Sherman said during a Thursday press conference.

That door was located on the first floor of the medical center. The servicemember who fired the weapon has not been placed on leave, Vanover said.

A woman inside the medical center Thursday posted photos on Facebook that have since started circulating on the social network. The woman’s photos show what appear to be bullet-sized holes in a wall next to a door.

» RELATED: Wright-Patt hospital: What we know about the base medical center

“Make no mistake, these were real bullets that tore through the wall where we were hiding. That was real drywall we felt flying through the air. That was real terror that we felt,” the woman said on Facebook.

Another photo obtained from the Dayton Daily News appears to show a damaged printer with the Air Force logo on it in the same room where there were bullet-sized holes in the wall. Vanover said she could not say how many shots were fired and could not verify the photos, but that the base may be able to verify that information once an investigation is completed.

Turner also could not verify how many shots were taken.

Wright-Patt employs more than 27,000 people, making it the largest single-site employer in Ohio with an estimated $4.2-billion economic impact annually.

The base’s medical center was originally built in 1956 and underwent a $99-million renovation in January 2012. It has about a $140 million budget, 2,100 employees and admits more than 4,000 people per year, according to its license.

Like Air Force investigators, Turner wants to know exactly how the false active shooter situation unfolded at Wright-Patt.

Turner sent Sherman a letter Friday in which he requested a briefing from the commander on what led to Thursday’s false alarm, an assessment of the response and what lessons can be learned from the incident, according to a release.

Turner called the false alarm “a presumed actual incident” and said now that it’s over should be evaluated to “enhance our overall security response.”

“Our local first responders were tremendous yesterday,” Turner said. “They were on the scene immediately to assist when they were called. However, there are still a lot questions left unanswered and I would like to know how this happened and how we can better respond in the future. I look forward to Col. Sherman being able to brief me and the local responders who have mutual aid agreements with the base.”

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Although base officials have released few details about the incident, multiple 911 calls from the medical center revealed the chaos that followed, which included a lock down and people reportedly being escorted out with their hands above their heads.

In a 911 call to Fairborn police, one person told dispatchers “help, there’s a shooter on the base.” Dispatchers transferred that call to Wright-Patt’s command center.

“Command center…hello? Ma’am are you there?” the dispatcher asked the caller.

Twelve seconds after the Wright-Patt dispatcher picked up, the words “police, open up” and a loud noise, possibly a gunshot, can be heard in the background of the call.

Another person from inside the medical center dialed 911 and got a hold of the Greene County County Sheriff’s Office 19 minutes after the incident began. The caller told the Greene County dispatcher she heard “four or five” shots fired.

“Help help,” the female caller whispered to Greene County dispatchers. “Wright-Patterson Air Force Base…active shooter Building 830.”


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July 27

• The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base newspaper, "The Skywrighter" prints a front-page notice letting base residents and workers know there would be training this week "on reactions to scnearios depicting situations that could impact the base at any time." It says the exercise could involve the base's public address system, telephone and electronic notifications, and increased activity by emergency responders.

Aug. 2

• 7:30 a.m.: The fourth day of training starts around 7:30 a.m., according to base officials, with activities throughout the day. Training activities were occurring at an area of the base about half a mile from the medical center.

• 12:40 a.m.: Someone at the medical center called 911 reporting an active shooter at the hospital. The call went to the on-base dispatch center and base officials refuse to release the call or any details about what the caller reported. Training exercises were immediately halted and first responders rushed to sweep the hospital.

• 12:44 a.m.- 12:59 a.m.: Multiple people call 911 and are routed to Fairborn and Greene County dispatch. Callers report an active shooter at the hospital.

• 1:01 p.m.: An alert is sent to base personnel saying "Emergency responders are enroute. All WPAFB Gates are Closed. All personnel take cover. Limit all communication to emergency use only."

• 1:01 p.m.: Greene County sheriff's deputies get a report of a shooting or stabbing at the medical center and send numerous officers to help determine if someone fled the scene.

• 1:18 p.m.: WPAFB tweets out, "At approximately 12:40 p.m. today, base emergency responders, including security forces and fire department, responded to a reported incident in building 830, the Wright-Patt Hospital. There are no additional details at this time. Information will be released as it is available."

• 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.: Law enforcement resources flooded to the base, including dozens of officers from nearby jurisdictions, the highway patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and FBI. Roads are closed around the base with traffic managed by the Greene County Sheriff's Office.

• 2:30 p.m.: Reports emerge from the hospital that someone is barricaded inside as people are escorted out of the building with their hands up.

• 2:47 p.m.: An all-clear is given to base personnel.

• 3:37 p.m.: Air Force base officials send a tweet: "There was no real world active shooter incident on Wright-Patterson AFB and base personnel remain safe" followed shortly by a press release saying a 911 caller thought there was a real emergency and a responding officer discharged a firearm in order to breech a locked door.

• 4:30 p.m.: Col. Tom Sherman, Wright-Patt Installation Commander, holds a press conference and says the 911 caller mistakenly thought there was a real-world incident and the incident will be investigated.

Aug. 3

• The Air Force Office of Special Investigations requests information from anyone with information concerning the incident.

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