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Friday, October 16, 2015

Reports of shooting at Skyline Center was misunderstanding

Fairfax County police officers at the Skyline Center. [NBC4 News]
Fairfax County police swarmed the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads Oct. 15 in response to what had been reported as shots fired in an office building at 5109 Leesburg Pike. The incident later turned out to be a misunderstanding. At first, after ruling out a shooting incident, Fairfax County Police Department reported it was an active-shooter drill organized by one of the building’s tenants.

Neither the Fairfax County Police Department, Arlington County Police Department, nor federal law enforcement officials, all of were at the site, had been notified of the drill in advance. The Skyline Center property management company, Vornado Charles E. Smith Co., hadn’t been informed either.

According to a FCPD spokesperson, an employee had forwarded an email giving warning about a drill at an unspecified future date to someone else in the building who misinterpreted the message and thought there really was a shooter and called the police. Meanwhile, reports about a shooter spread through social media, and FCPD sent out tweets saying they were investigating a shooting.

When police thought there really was a shooter, they secured the building, one floor at a time. During the incident, employees in the building hid under their desks in fear.FCPS later reported that it was an active-shooter drill, and it wasn’t until the next day that the whole story emerged: It wasn't a drill at all; it was just a misinterpretation of an email about a future drill.

There was also a whole lot of police activity in that area early on Oct. 15 due to an attempted burglary at Skyline Plaza Condominium on the 3500 block of S. George Mason Drive. A resident saw a man about to enter his residence from a balcony at about 1:30 a.m. The resident closed the door, and the suspect fled. The suspect was described as white or Hispanic, in his late 20s, about 6 feet tall, and approximately 210 pounds. He was wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans.


  1. > active-shooter drill organized by one of the building’s tenants

    Stupid. Just so, so stupid. Apparently these are once again becoming all the rage at elementary schools as well?

    "Citizens!! Help us maintain our hideously bloated budget by maintaining adequate fear levels at all times!"

    1. The lock-down drills at public schools all across the country are carefully planned events organized by responsible, knowledgeable people. You cannot begin to compare them to this debacle.

      If you knew about working in a school and being responsible for hundreds of children, you'd understand that yes, lock-down drills are just another procedure (not an "all the rage" fad) that's carried out in the same fashion as a fire drill or a tornado drill. None of this has anything to do with budgets or fear-mongering.

      Rein yourself in.

  2. Why would you organize a drill & not inform the police, and possibly the other building tenants?