Report: Wright-Patterson response 'poorly planned, executed' following false active shooter incident

Posted at 9:17 AM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 14:05:33-05

DAYTON, Ohio — A report released about a false active shooter incident at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in August found that a “poorly planned and executed base-wide activity” led to chaos.

Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, briefed the findings of the Incident Review Board on Wednesday. Sherman ordered the board to examine all aspects of the Aug. 2 incident.

The Incident Review Board looked into the overall execution of the response to the incident, evaluating actions such as response time, coordination with outside agencies and command and control.

Here are five key findings from the report:

All base exercises were not clearly communicated to employees.

Two base exercises were occurring that day, one at Kittyhawk Chapel and another at the Wright-Patterson Medical Treatment Facility. “While realism is important in training exercises, all personnel must be always be fully aware of exercise vs. real-world situations. Coordinating with all concerned organizations and then sticking with the agreed upon plan is essential to keeping everyone fully aware,” the report found.

Air Force Security Member discharged rounds from M4 Carbine assault rifle

At 12:46 p.m., Wright-Patterson fire dispatch was notified of three shots fired in the hospital’s Red Clinic. Six minutes later, fire dispatch reported the three to five shots appeared to have been fired by Wright-Patterson 88th Security Forces member. When responding, that Security Forces member fired rounds from an M4 through the window of a locked door.

Air Force Security Forces can carry the M4 Carbine assault rifle. The semiautomatic weapon has a three-round burst firing option, according to the Air Force website. The weapon has a 30-round magazine and its attachment options include a lazer pointer and grenade launcher. It has the capability of firing 700 to 950 rounds per minute.

Use of the M4 was not warranted

The use of an M4 weapon to breach a locked door was inappropriate. Military personnel must follow weapons safety training at all times, especially during high pressure situations, the report found.

Bystanders walked out while building was still being cleared by law enforcement

At 1:39 p.m., responders started to clear the building, and even more confusion occurred. After a team entered a room and determined it was safe, they announced “clear” to indicate to other responders that the room was sweeped. Hospital employees hiding in adjacent rooms thought it was safe to come out, but were instead met by responders with drawn weapons who were still sweeping the building.

Response by outside law enforcement agencies and military forces was disjointed

A breakdown of communication led to a completely uncoordinated and ineffective combined response that could have resulted in serious injury or property damage. A thorough understanding between federal, state and local agencies about command and control to include understanding jurisdiction and response procedures needs to be established.

WHIO is a media partner of WCPO.