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Ohio State Mistakenly Sends 'Active Attacker' Alert

Ohio State

Ohio State's Public Safety office said it mistakenly sent out an "active attacker" alarm just after noon on Monday afternoon.

In a "Buckeye Alert" sent to Ohio State students and faculty over campus desktops, the university said that police were responding and people on campus should "Run Hide Fight." An email alert was also sent through Franklin County's emergency management system.

A follow-up message, sent just a few minutes later, said "there is no threat" and attributed the alert to "a system malfunction."

In a statement, Ohio State apologized for the error.

"The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety ran an internal system test of our emergency alert system early Monday afternoon. The department routinely tests the system," the statement said. "However, due to human error, today’s test was inadvertently pushed to campus desktop computers and via the Franklin County alert system."

Ohio State said they will review their protocols around internal tests.

False "active attacker" alerts were sent through Ohio State and Franklin County's emergency management systems on Monday.
Credit Twitter
False "active attacker" alerts were sent through Ohio State and Franklin County's emergency management systems on Monday.

The phrase "Run Hide Fight" is part of Ohio State's emergency response training, and encourages people on campus to follow an escape plan, with hiding in a locked room as a second resort. The training says that people should attempt to incapacitate the attacker only as a "last resort to be used only when your life is in imminent danger."

The "Run Hide Fight" alert was previously deployed during the November 2016 car-and-knife attack on Ohio State's campus, which left several people injured and the attacker dead. In that incident, a text message alert incorrectly warned of an "active shooter" on campus. Columbus Police later said the gunshots heard were in fact fired by a responding Ohio State Police officer, and the confrontation lasted less than one minute.

In April 2017, a report by the Ohio State Department of Public Safety recommended changes to its automatic response system, which it found failed to notify campus visitors and contractors. The report also found too much time passed between automated alerts, and the inital alert lacked specifics about the attack.

This article will be updated as the story develops.