An alert about an active shooter sent to thousands of Montgomery College students and faculty members early Friday morning was a false alarm, the school said — the second one in less than two years.
The school said a staff training exercise was to blame for Friday’s erroneous message.
The alert, sent about 7:45 a.m., read: “EMERGENCY! Active shooter at [insert campus] Campus. LOCK DOWN NOW. Go to nearest room and lock door! Follow instructions from authorities.”
The erroneous message was blasted out via text message, email and the school’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. About 17,500 text messages and 55,000 email alerts were sent using the school’s automatic notification system, school spokesman Marcus Rosano told WTOP.
About 25 minutes later — at 8:11 a.m. — the school sent out another alert, reading “There is NO THREAT,” and saying the active shooter message was sent in error.
MC ALERT: There is NO THREAT. The “active shooter” message was sent in ERROR. There is NO THREAT. We apologize for the erroneous message.
— Montgomery College (@montgomerycoll) November 1, 2019
Rosano said the school is investigating, but so far it appears the false alarm was caused by “human error.” A staff member was conducting a training session this morning on how to use the alert system “and a mistake was made,” he said.
Rosano apologized for the false alarm, said the school takes campus safety seriously and promised more training to “get as close to perfect as possible.”
In February 2018, a false alarm about an active shooter on campus was sent under similar circumstances, he said.
“There’s no excuses. It was an error,” Rosano said. “And moving forward, we just have to know why the mistake was made and we just have to train more. But the fact is, there were two mistakes that unfortunately scared a lot of people and we’re sorry for that.”
Montgomery College has campuses in Germantown, Rockville and Silver Spring.