Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

No Evidence Of Active Shooter After Lockdown On Washington Capitol Campus

Heavily armed police officers found no evidence Wednesday morning of an active shooter on the Washington State Capitol Campus following a report of suspicious noises that sounded like gunshots. 

The entire campus in Olympia was put on lockdown at approximately 9:30 a.m. while officers armed with rifles searched a pair of buildings on the east campus that house the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Social and Health Services.

During the lockdown police cars blocked the entrance to the Department of Natural Resources building, which also houses Fish and Wildlife, while some staffers stood outside.

“They’re looking for shells, looking for witnesses, looking for some sign that something occurred,” said Joe Stohr, deputy director of Fish and Wildlife.

Draevin Luke was at work on the second floor of Office Building 2 which houses the Department of Social and Health Services. He said employees were told to stay away from windows and doors. Eventually police officers arrived and searched the building. 

"We had a full three man police sweep, assault gear, everything come through," Luke said. "We were on full lockdown." 

The lockdown lasted approximately an hour. At a press briefing afterward, the state patrol said the 9-1-1 call that started this came from a state worker who heard or overheard another person describe suspicious noises that sounded like gunshots.

"We have not been able to locate that initial individual who heard the suspicious noises," said Kyle Moore, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol. "That has made it a little more challenging for us because we weren't able to pinpoint exactly where those noises were from and what that person heard." 

Later in the day, Moore said by email that troopers had interviewed about a dozen people who heard "a loud noise from outside the building," but the investigators could still not pinpoint the source of the noise.

Washington state employees at the capitol are trained to flee or hide in active shooter scenarios.

This was the second security incident on the Capitol campus in recent weeks. In June the state patrol warned employees of a "person of interest" who might be intending to visit the campus. On June 23 that man was detained near the Capitol. 

"I think employees are doing the right thing," said Moore. "If they feel there is something suspicious, they are saying something."

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."
Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.