Naval Support Activity Bethesda, which includes the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, said it received an anonymous phone call at about 8.45am on Wednesday saying there was a bomb at or near Building 10, and issued lockdown and shelter-in-place orders. But by about 1:30pm that afternoon, those orders were lifted.
“The installation commanding officer has lifted the shelter in place for all locations effective immediately and has authorized the opening of Gates 1 and 3 for outbound traffic only,” NSA Bethesda said in a tweet.
Earlier, the base had also said it was investigating an active shooter threat, although it later said there were no signs of a shooter.
“At this time, there is no indication of an active shooter on the installation,” NSA Bethesda announced.
That morning, the base said security personnel were at the scene, and both threats were being investigated.
NSA Bethesda provides operational support for a number of US military institutions located on the complex. In addition to Walter Reed, the base houses the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Naval Medical Leader and Professional Development Command, and Soldier Recovery Brigade, and other organisations.
At 9.54am, Walter Reed said “all patient appointments have been cancelled.”
“Go indoors into the nearest building and shelter in place,” the medical center said. “All commands initiate building emergency plans to shelter in place.”
At 10.49am, NSA Bethesda said police dogs were working to make sure the hospital was safe.
“K-9 teams are in the process of clearing buildings at Walter Reed Bethesda,” the base said.
The Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management warned that traffic around the closed-off complex would likely become severe.
“All Naval Support Activity Bethesda Gates are closed,” the office tweeted. “Severe backups possible on Rockville Pike (MD 355) at Cedar Lane, MD 355 at Jones Bridge Road, & Connecticut Ave (MD 185) near I-495. Seek alternate routes.”
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