Police say active shooter report at Norfolk Naval Shipyard was false alarm, building cleared

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard facility's side gate is shown in this undated photo.


By BROCK VERGAKIS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: February 14, 2019

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Thousands of workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard were told to shelter in place for hours Thursday after officials received reports of an active shooter, although local police and the Navy later said it was a false alarm.

Portsmouth police spokesman Lt. Bryant Hall said his department's SWAT team had cleared an unspecified building and that "it was a complete false alarm."

The Navy issued a statement saying normal operations had resumed Thursday afternoon and that the lock-down had been lifted several hours after telling workers on Facebook to shelter in place.

"This is NOT a drill," the post said.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard is a sprawling industrial complex on the Elizabeth River that employs more than 10,000 civilians and hundreds of military personnel. It is the Navy's oldest public shipyard.

Threats against Navy personnel and assets aren't uncommon. On Tuesday, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey received a bomb threat at a different shipyard in Norfolk. A security sweep didn't find anything suspicious.

In May, Norfolk Naval Shipyard received threatening messages left in restrooms across the shipyard. Last year, a series of bomb threats were made against ships at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

The reports of an active shooter came at the same time the Navy is in the midst of a nationwide anti-terrorism, force protection exercise.

Every Navy installation is participating in the exercise, but not everyone trains for the same thing. Active-shooter exercises are one of the options base commanders can train for each year.

In October, authorities responded to another report of an active shooter near the USS Carter Hall at the General Dynamics shipyard in Portsmouth. A security sweep didn't find anything suspicious.

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