State workers were locked down or evacuated and state troopers swarmed the state Capitol Campus Wednesday morning after reports of gunfire, but police found no evidence of a shooter.
At about 9:15 a.m., someone leaving Office Building 2 on the east Capitol Campus reported to an employee he or she heard “suspicious noises, which they thought were gunfire,” according to Kyle Moore of Washington State Patrol. The employee called 911.
The Department of Enterprise Services initiated a campus-wide lockdown. Workers were told to shelter in place, while those outside the buildings were told to stay away. About 7,000 people work on the campus.
Troopers searched the area and found no evidence of gunfire, a shooter or a victim. The lockdown was lifted at about 10:45 a.m.
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Washington State Patrol was continuing to search the area as a precaution. Moore said investigators had not talked to the person who thought he or she heard the gunfire.
“I think employees are doing the right thing where if they feel that there’s something suspicious, they’re saying something. We want to keep all our employees and the public safe on campus and because of that, that’s why we locked down the campus and also why you saw such a large, quick police presence,” Moore said in a press briefing as the lockdown was lifted.
Afterwards, workers described scenes ranging from chaotic to cautious.
Lynette Wickett, an employee at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, was in the Department of Natural Resources Building at the time.
“Nobody knew what was happening. Some of us stayed, some of us left,” she said.
Sarah Stewart, a contractor for the Olympia company Treinen, said she was in OB2 and told not to go into the hallways.
“We just all kept working at our computers — it’s not like we were huddled under the desks or anything,” she said, adding she did see some people call to check in with family members.
Adolfo Capestany, director of communications for the Department of Social and Health Services, said four employees in that department heard noises in a stairway of OB2 around 9:30 a.m. on their way out of the building. They told their story to Capestany and to law enforcement after the lockdown.
“The four of them said they heard this loud sound coming from somewhere up above,” he said.
The employees reported it to the building’s reception desk, but Capestany said he wasn’t sure who notified law enforcement.
While the search area focused on OB2 and the Natural Resources Building, which are connected, all Capitol Campus buildings were placed on lockdown, according to the Department of Enterprise Services.