Confusion and chaos erupted in Fairfax County, Virginia after police responded to an “active shooter” incident, which turned out to be a drill.
It was happening at a Bailey’s Crossroads office building Thursday – but apparently surrounding businesses were unaware of the drill and went into lockdown mode as people in the area “scrambled for information.”
Surrounding police departments and the FBI Washington Field Office told WTOP they were initially unaware of the drill.
Fairfax County police said officers were investigating a report of shots heard at 5109 Leesburg Pike yesterday afternoon. They sent out a tweet saying “nothing was confirmed and they had not located any suspects or victims.”
Fairfax County police had a “large presence” and the incident caused alarm to people in the area. Rockville resident Edgar Rodriguez was locked in the building at the time and had no clue what was happening.
“They should let people know,” Rodriguez says.
Another resident said, “I definitely think there can be more communication because everyone was freaking out.”
About 45 minutes after their initial tweet, the department confirmed on Twitter that the incident was the scene of an “active shooter drill.”
Police later found out – and informed the public – that an unknown federal agency in the building was conducting the drill.
Apparently one of the building’s tenants received an email that there would be an active shooter drill, and the tenant forwarded the email to another person in the building. That other person called 911, not realizing it was a drill.
The building at 5109 Leesburg Pike has several government agencies and private companies, officials said.