November 6, 2010

Gunman At NASA Center In Ohio A False Alarm

A misdirected phone call during an emergency notification system test locked down a NASA research center in Ohio on Friday, leading people at the facility to believe there was a gunman on campus.

NASA Glenn Research Center spokeswoman Lori Rachul said there was no shooting, but a center employee was led to believe there was.

Glenn Center Director Ramon Lugo III said that a center employee has the same last name as an employee at the NASA center running the test and mistakenly received an automated call at about 9:30 a.m. warning that there was a shooter in the facility.

The employee then told a supervisor, who then forwarded the information up to the chain of command at the center.  Officials at that moment were unaware of the test, leading them to order a lockdown. 

The lockdown was later called off when officials realized the error.

"I want to apologize to everybody for the inconvenience and the stress that resulted from the situation," Lugo told reporters. "I have been assured by NASA headquarters that they're going to be conducting a review of this incident to assure that it doesn't occur in the future."

Lugo did not say which space agency center conducted the test, but a union official in Cleveland said it originated at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"This whole thing was a fiasco," Virginia Cantwell, president of a union representing 1,345 NASA Glenn employees, told the Associated Press (AP).

She added that "people are very upset about this."

Lugo said officials initially had the understanding that a suspected gunman was in one building and then later found out he could possibly be in another building.

"It was a little bit of confusion given that we couldn't find anybody when we either entered the first building or the second building," he said.

Michael Bilinovich, head of security at Glenn, said NASA is testing the notification system still, and that Glenn plans to test it later this month.

The center in Ohio is named after John Glenn, who piloted the first manned orbital mission in the U.S. in 1962.


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