Jackhammer causes base exercise to go awry

An exercise at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, on Thursday had an unanticipated twist.

The base had been planning an active-shooter exercise for some time and had informed personnel. But base spokesman George Woodward said what was not anticipated was a construction crew starting up a jackhammer in the middle of the exercise. Although blank bullets were part of the exercise, base authorities were surprised to get calls about the sound of possible gunfire where none was supposed to be.

Personnel discovered what sounded like shots might be the noise of the jackhammer. Until base personnel figured out for sure what was happening, Woodward said the decision was made to keep the base on lockdown beyond the time of the exercise.

“We’re acting out of an abundance of caution,” he said.

Wichita Falls Police and Sheriff’s deputies were called to form a perimeter around the base after the confusion arose. At one point, 28 units or personnel from the two civilian agencies were assigned to the base.

“We got a call requesting police and Sheriff’s assistance on the perimeter while they were doing the search,” Sheriff David Duke said. “We stayed until we heard the all-clear.”

The all-clear was given about 3:30 p.m., and Woodward reported no incident and no injuries.

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