FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Media calls to Fort Meade on Thursday were mistaken for callers portraying members of the media during an exercise, setting off false reports of a mass shooting at the base in Maryland, according to a base official.
The base was conducting an exercise on Thursday, when multiple outlets reported that there was an actual active shooter incident there, but fortunately there was no shooting, Fort Meade’s Public Affairs Officer Chad Jones said in a statement.
He called the incident “an unfortunate miscommunication between the installation and a few media outlets” and apologized for the confusion.
A call from a media outlet went through Fort Meade’s Emergency Operations Center, where the exercise was conducted and the request was thought to be part of the exercise, Community Relations Chief Sherry Kuiper said in an email. As part of the exercise, they do get calls from people portraying the media to exercise their response, she said. It’s not clear what prompted media outlets to call in the first place, Keiper said.
Reached by telephone after reports of a shooting that injured multiple people began circulating online, Fort Meade spokeswoman Angie Streets said there was an exercise ongoing but no actual shooting. One of the training exercises involved a shooting scenario and the reports may have stemmed from a miscommunication, she said.
Earlier this week, Fort Meade’s public affairs office sent out an advisory about an exercise planned for Tuesday through Friday. It said the exercise, CAPITAL SHIELD 21, aims to test the response to “multiple emergent incidents under COVID-19 conditions.” During the exercise, security and emergency services would respond to incidents in “clearly identified training areas throughout the installation,” the advisory said.