Law-enforcement officers searched two Capitol campus buildings but could find no evidence of a shooting or a shooter, and the lockdown was lifted after about an hour.
OLYMPIA — Washington state’s Capitol campus briefly went on lockdown Wednesday morning after a report of possible gunfire near a cluster of state agency buildings.
A state employee called 911 about 9:14 a.m., after speaking with someone who said they heard a suspicious noise that may have been gunshots, according to Kyle Moore, Washington State Patrol spokesman.
Law-enforcement officers searched two agency buildings but could find no evidence of a shooting or a shooter, Moore said. The lockdown lifted around 10:30 a.m.
In the meantime, state workers were told to stay in their offices, and campus building doors were locked.
Law officers – some with rifles and bulletproof vests – could be seen posted outside building entrances. Other officers searched two buildings on the east side of the campus, according to Moore.
Searched were the Natural Resources Building, and Office Building 2, which is home to the state Department of Social and Health Services. Washington’s Capitol building, the governor’s mansion and other legislative and executive buildings are located on the west side of campus.
Office Building 2 — where the reports of possible gunfire originated — and the Natural Resources Building are connected by a parking garage, according to Moore.
“Troopers and Oly police thoroughly searched both buildings, did not find anything to indicate there was any type of gunfire,” Moore said at a news conference.
The State Patrol late Wednesday morning didn’t know the identity of the person who originally mentioned hearing possible gunshots, Moore said. That complicated efforts to learn what prompted the report.
Because of that, it isn’t known for sure whether that person is a state employee, though “they were leaving the building saying that,” Moore said. “The person that did call 911 was an employee,” he added.
The lockdown of people in their offices was ordered by Capitol officials out of an “abundance of caution,” Moore said.
During the lockdown, Joe Stohr of the Department of Fish and Wildlife stood outside the Natural Resources Building, waiting to get back in.
“I got a call from staff, saying we were on lockdown,” said Stohr, deputy director for the agency. Officers told Stohr they were “looking for shells, looking for witnesses,” he said, anything to “bring some clarity” to the report of gunfire.
Stohr added that he hadn’t experienced a lockdown like this in his approximately 10 years of work on the Capitol campus.
Law enforcement planned to continue searching the sprawling campus “to make sure everyone is safe,” according to Moore.
Even with the lockdown over, bomb-sniffing dogs were being brought onto campus, Moore said, “just as a precaution.”
The public was being advised to remain off the campus, he said.