BETHESDA, Md. - A Congressional investigation has been launched into what transpired during a false alarm for a mass shooter at Walter Reed Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon.
A Maryland member of Congress who was inside the facility and kept under lockdown along with other personnel and patients told FOX 5 that he wants answers - and he wants them now.
Staff and personnel were still rattled a day later, but it was business as usual at Walter Reed.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersburger was inside Walter Reed for an appointment on Tuesday when he wound up on lockdown *behind a* barricaded *door.* At the time, he was aware that an incident that turned out to be a false alarm may have been the real thing.
Now, he tells FOX 5 he's angry - not only about the false alarm, but also the lack of communication as the situation escalated.
"This is ridiculous! What's going on? The Pentagon says one thing, somebody else is saying something else! Now as a member of Congress, I'm on Defense Appropriations and I work with the Pentagon a lot, and I'm saying this…This is really wrong. Somebody really messed up bad," Ruppersberger said.
Naval Support Activity in Bethesda told FOX 5 that a meeting was held at Walter Reed on Wednesday to try to determine what went wrong.
The two main questions:
- How did a false active shooter alert go out without the words "drill" or "exercise"?
- Why did the U.S. Navy's Twitter account say an "ad hoc drill" had occurred, only later to be contradicted by Navy Support Activity in Bethesda saying it wasn't*?
This is the second time since 2015 that Walter Reed has been thrown into lockdown - fear and panic breaking out over a false report of an active shooter.
Michael O'Hanlon, a Brookings Institute security expert, told FOX 5 that both the Navy and the Pentagon need to explain to their own personnel and surrounding neighbors in Bethesda what went on, and to insure that it doesn't happen again.
"This was sloppy, and in the absence of a real reason to think there was someone with a gun shooting the weapon and there was no such evidence - and there was no such person! This was mishandled. If the military doesn't want to hear that, they're going to have to think harder about how to be a good neighbor in a densely populated residential area," O'Hanlon said.
Ruppersburger's seat on the Defense Appropriations Committee will give weight to the investigation as the committee controls the Pentagon's budget.
A spokesman for Walter Reed says that a report is being prepared on Tuesday's false alarm, but he couldn't say whether that report would ever be released to the public.