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CTX community on edge after several false 'active shooter' reports

Posted at 7:12 PM, Aug 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 20:12:56-04

BELL COUNTY, TX — In the days following two deadly mass shootings in the United States, Americans have been on edge including those in Central Texas.

In Bell County alone, there were at least four reports of active shooter situations during the first week of August.

One of those reports happened on Thursday when a theft at a Harker Heights Walmart was mistaken for an active shooter.

"[I was] just shopping around and I happened to stop and ask someone a question, and a man walked up to an associate that I was speaking with and he said that there was an active shooter with a gun," Walmart Shopper Ashley Pickens said. "I hung up with my sister and the alarms went off and everyone took off running, you know the kids and everything, and everyone took off running out the back."

The Harker Heights Police Department responded to the Walmart and everyone was able to go back into the store 30 minutes later.

"You don't know what to do and you don't know, especially with what's going on with El Paso, everyone is a little nervous we are on edge," Pickens said.

Those that were alerted of the situation turned to social media for answers. A few different people posted in the Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove Crime Watch Facebook page.

"We had reports immediately posted about a man with a gun. As soon as we saw that, we were alerted by other members on the page who said, so you know what's actually happening,” Page Administrator Andrea Forte said.

"Especially due to the heightened sensitivity from the El Paso shooting, we have noticed an increase in unsubstantiated reports. We recently had someone that said there was a shooting at the Rancier gate on Fort Hood,” Forte said.

Both situations weren’t found to be credible. Forte is now using the instances to remind people to know before the post.

"Call that jurisdictional law enforcement agency and say, 'Is there something going on?’ They are going to tell you yes or no. They may not tell you more than that, but they will always tell you yes or no if there is something going on,” Forte said.

Anyone who makes a false report can face legal ramifications. A false report can result in a person being charged with a Misdemeanor or even a Felony.