An anonymously-run Facebook page with little more than 14,500 fans sparked temporary panic at a major Marine Corps base in California by promoting the idea that an active shooting was taking place on Thursday evening.
At around 8:15 p.m., the page “Senior Lance Corporal” informed its followers that an active shooter was in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton, a major installation north of San Diego that hosts around 70,000 military and civilian personnel.
“ALL MARINES HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED TO LOCK THEMSELVES IN THEIR ROOMS,” the page wrote, while noting “This is NOT a joke” in a now deleted post.
The problem, which its many fans were not aware of, was that it was completely untrue. A Facebook page known to be a thorn in the side of the Marine Corps had called in the digital equivalent of a bomb threat, with real-world consequences.
In a press release, base officials said law enforcement personnel “promptly followed protocol for an alleged active shooter incident and responded.”
The original Facebook post from Senior Lance Corporal spread fast, with it being shared more than 175 times. The page even wrote comments offering “updates” on the situation, writing “INTERNAL [QUICK REACTION FORCE] AND [MILITARY POLICE] ARE CONDITION ONE.” (Condition One means they have weapons loaded with a round in the chamber).
“We investigated and there was no sign of an active shooter. No hardcore evidence,” said Eric Moore, a dispatcher with the Camp Pendleton Police Department. Moore told Business Insider the department had received numerous phone calls from people who were worried, all sourced back to Facebook and Twitter.
He added: “They saw it on social media networks and then they started telling their friends. It’s all rumor, it’s all hearsay.”
PAUL SZOLDRA (Business Insider)