Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson officials say no lockdowns are in effect on base despite rumors of an active shooter there Thursday, with officials instead working to locate a missing person.
In an email to Channel 2 Thursday night, JBER spokesperson Air Force 1st Lt. Matthew Chism didn’t say who was missing, but did identify him as an active-duty JBER service member.
“The service member was not present for morning duty on Oct. 24 and his unit contacted additional base agencies to assist with determining his status and location,” Chism wrote.
Chism says a search of the base for the service member included his residence and work area, before new information later in the day led base officials to believe he was in the Lower 48.
“The service member was originally believed to be a risk to himself;
information gained during the day determined that no longer to be the case,” Chism wrote.
In a post shortly after 1 p.m. on JBER’s Facebook page, officials acknowledged that some elements on base had temporarily tightened security in response to the rumors, but explicitly dispelled them.
“These rumors are untrue ... there (is) no such scenario going on nor was there earlier,” base officials wrote. “As a precautionary measure, earlier today some base agencies took actions to increase their protective posture...those operations have now returned to normal.”
While Chism didn’t specify when portions of the base began to tighten security, he says those measures were in place for about three hours based on what JBER was initially told about the missing man.
“Overall, JBER's security posture never changed,” Chism wrote. “(A)s a precautionary measure, some base agencies took measures to increase their protective posture.”
JBER says that the base’s Security Forces Squadron has been working with military and civilian law enforcement agencies, including the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army Criminal Investigation Command, to determine the missing man’s whereabouts.
“We currently have information to believe the individual in question is off the installation and in the lower 48, posing zero risk to the men and women at JBER,” officials wrote.
Facebook posts by commenters on JBER’s website indicated that the base’s hospital was part of the temporary lockdown, in response to an earlier official post by media operations chief Erin Eaton. That post, since deleted, included a strong call against disseminating misinformation.
“We need your help,” Eaton wrote. “Stay in your lane. Speak truth. Don’t gossip or spread rumors because it creates confusion, panic and distress when it’s not necessary.”
Eaton’s post became controversial due to a sharp response to those relaying reports of a shooter.
“Rumor has it we have an active shooter on base,” Eaton wrote. “Soooo, have you seen such a thing here today? If not, stop talking nonsense.”
Reached for comment before the post announcing the missing-person search, Eaton denied that a lockdown was in effect on base while remaining circumspect about the search.
“It’s blown out of proportion,” Eaton said. “People are saying certain things, and JBER Security Forces can increase or decrease security as they see fit.”
Asked about her Facebook post, Eaton said her intention was to switch people’s focus from spreading untrue details to keeping an eye out for any actual threats.
“Rather than being concerned about a rumor, they should remain observant,” Eaton said.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.