Unaware of Planned Drill, Fairfax Police Warn of ‘Active Shooter'

Dozens of police officers rushed to an office building in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia Thursday afternoon after Fairfax County police received a call about an active shooter -- and officers then learned that a tenant in the building had planned an active-shooter drill.

Fairfax County police received a call about 1 p.m. Thursday about the possibility of an active shooter in the Skyline Towers complex on the 5100 block of Leesburg Pike, Officer Roger Henriquez said.

Officers from Fairfax County, Arlington County and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded, closing traffic in the area as people scrambled for information.

Fairfax police said on Twitter about 1:20 p.m. that officers were investigating a report of shots heard, asking locals to avoid the area. 

Officers then learned that one tenant in the building had planned a drill and sent an email about it to employees, Henriquez said. One employee forwarded an email about the drill to another employee, who misunderstood it as as warning that a shooter was in the building.

Officers secured the building, moving floor by floor, and then were informed that a drill had been planned, Henriquez said.

A federal agency was scheduled to hold the drill, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman told WTOP. Neither Arlington County police nor the FBI Washington Field Office had been aware of the drill either, both agencies told WTOP. Several government agencies have offices in the building.

Henriquez said police need to take all calls about active shooters seriously.

"We can't discard that one message that goes out ... as not being real," he said. "Those seconds are precious in a situation like this."

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