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Wright-Patterson AFB hospital leader: Teamwork 'saved lives' during shooter scare

People with their hands up come out amid reports of an active shooter at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.

MARSHALL GORBY/DAYTON DAILY NEWS

By MAX FILBY | The Dayton Daily News | Published: August 6, 2018

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The leader of the hospital at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where an active shooter scare occurred Thursday said that teamwork and patience during the incident likely “saved lives.”

Col. Michael Foutch, commander of the 88th medical group at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, thanked workers via email a day after the scare at the hospital for their help on what he referred to as “a difficult and stressful day.” Base spokeswoman Marie Vanover verified the email obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

“Your action — across the Med Group and from our Base and County First Responders —kept this situation from getting further out of hand and likely saved lives,” Foutch wrote in a Friday email.

Around 12:40 p.m. Thursday, someone from inside Wright-Patterson Medical Center called 911 and that call was routed through the base’s command center. The call caused all base gates to temporarily close and resulted in upwards of 100 local, state and federal law enforcement officers to respond.

After the 911 call came in, security forces and the base fire department responded and conducted a sweep of the building. During the sweep, security forces discharged a firearm in an attempt to breach a locked door, Col. Thomas Sherman said during a Thursday press conference.

On Friday, the Dayton Daily News published photos from a woman inside the Medical Center during the gun shooting. The woman’s photos show what appear to be bullet-sized holes in a wall next to a door.

“Make no mistake, these were real bullets that tore through the wall where we were hiding. That was real drywall we felt flying through the air. That was real terror that we felt,” the woman said on Facebook.

Another photo obtained from the Dayton Daily News appears to show a damaged printer with the Air Force logo on it in the same room that had bullet-sized holes in the wall.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton called the use of the firearm to breach the door “highly unusual and highly questionable.”

Turners said the use of a firearm by base security officials would “absolutely” be part of what officials would look at when scrutinizing the response to a false alarm that lasted more than three hours on Thursday.

In his email, Foutch invited personnel to meet in an auditorium at 11 a.m. and again at noon to discuss the nearly three-hour active shooter scare. Foutch said he wanted to tell workers “what we’re doing about the incident going forward.”

He also said commanders would be gathering input from workers to analyze what procedures needed improvement upon reflection of Thursday’s incident.

“The will consolidate those inputs and get them to me next week so we can begin to work on processes, communications and times to improve safety in our workplace to mitigate such events from happening again,” Foutch wrote.

Foutch also criticized the use of the terms “false alarm” and “non-event” to describe the shooting scare. Despite news reports, he wrote that commanders know there was “definitely a dangerous incident that happened” Thursday.

Although shots were fired by base security forces, reportedly to breach a locked door, officials have said no one was injured in the incident. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is looking into the incident and there is no timeline for completion of the investigation, Vanover said.

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©2018 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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