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A nearly four-hour lockdown at Dover Air Force Base caused by a report of a suspicious person spotted on the premises Thursday turned out to be based on a false report.
The lockdown began at 11 a.m. after someone reported seeing a person running toward Building 706 with a weapon, said Lt. Mesha Nelson, deputy of public affairs at the base. There also was a claim of an active shooter.
Security forces swept the base but did not find anything to support either claim, Nelson said.
“We apologize for any inconvenience and confusion this response may have caused,” Col. Randy Huiss, 436th Airlift Wing vice wing commander, said. “However, these measures were taken to ensure the safety of the base populace as we investigated the reports and found them to be false.”
During the lockdown, uniformed security servicemen and women could be seen in yellow vests or belts at base gates, flagging people to turn around at the main gate.
While there were short backups to get in at most gates, there appeared to be a backup inside the base waiting to get out at the south commercial gate.
Students at Maj. George S. Welch Elementary School on the base are were on lockdown. Classes continue, but students are not allowed in the hallways.
Students from Positive Outcomes Charter School in Camden were touring the the Air Mobility Command Museum when the lockdown began. The school’s director said they were told there was a possible active shooter on the base.
“The base went into lockdown and our students were secured in a protected area,” said Edward Emmett, school director.
Mike Leister, director of the Air Mobility Command Museum, said that facility was on lockdown for about 30 minutes before being allowed to reopen.
“We were given permission to reopen because we are in a separate enclave,” Leister said, adding they continued routine operations, including an army change of command ceremony. “We locked the place down, we gathered everybody up and passed the information out and when we got permission to open back up everybody went about their business.”
Leister said he heard someone mention there was a possible active shooter, but he did not know where that came from.
“It wasn’t from any official source that I saw,” Leister said, adding he was told the lockdown was due to a report of a suspicious person. “That’s all we really had.”
The lockdown was lifted at 2:40 p.m., base officials said. Shortly after 3 p.m., the base issued a news release informing the public the reports were false.