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UPDATED: Nothing Found After Police Respond to Reports of Man With Weapon at Gannett HQ

Updated at 1:35 p.m. 8/9/19 — Police said that after a thorough investigation, “our detectives have concluded no criminal activity occurred.”

More from FCPD:

An ex-employee of a business within the building sent a suspicious group text message to some of his formercolleagues but there were no direct threats made. The following day, an employee in the building overheard two co-workers discussing the text message and asked another employee for additional information. 

There was a language barrier and through the use of a cell phone translator program, the message was interpreted as a present threat of a man in the building with a gun. Building security relayed the information they received to our dispatch center, prompting the emergency response. 

Our investigation determined that no one was actually seen with a gun and we do not have any evidence that the subject who sent the text message was at the building on Wednesday. 

Earlier: Fairfax County police responded en masse to reports of a man with a weapon at Gannett headquarters in Tysons shortly after noon on Wednesday.

The police department tweeted about the incident at 7950 Jones Branch Drive, in the Valo Park office complex, at 12:25 p.m. today (Wednesday). Police vehicles swarmed the area as the building was evacuated.

Gannett, which publishes USA Today and hundreds of local newspapers across the country, this week announced a merger with fellow newspaper chain GateHouse.

USA Today reported around 1:15 p.m. that the incident resulted from “a mistaken report of a person with a weapon.” Fairfax County Police said that they “have found no evidence of any acts of violence or injuries.”

Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said police received a 911 call around noon that said a former employee was spotted inside the building with a gun. Roessler said there is a person of interest being sought, but that there are no gunshots reported in the building. As of 2 p.m., Roessler said police were still searching the building floor by floor.

“Right now, we do not have any reports of gunshots being fired,” Roessler said. “This is a very large office complex, going to take several more hours to clear the building and make the determination that it’s all clear.”

A reunification center was established at the McLean Hilton (7920 Jones Branch Drive) for evacuated employees.

At a later press conference, Roessler said that police were talking to the person of interest, who was said to be a former employee of a company at the Valo Park complex. The person was located in a different part of Fairfax County and there is no evidence of a crime, Roessler said, adding that officers had “cleared every single inch of that building, from the basement to the roof to the parking garages.”

Police are still reviewing surveillance video to determine if the person of interest was actually in the building, as reported by the 911 caller.

Roessler said the large police response — which included heavily-armed SWAT officers and the Fairfax County Police helicopter overhead — was consistent with how the department would respond to an active shooter situation. The response was necessary, he said, given the initial report of an armed ex-employee.

In a press release this evening, police said that the person of interest “was identified in an unrelated area of the county and officers spoke with him, however, criminal charges are not expected.”

“The investigation is ongoing but we don’t have any evidence that a crime occurred – we’re thankful that this was a non-event,” Roessler said in the press release.

“The right decision was made today, even though it disrupted businesses,” he said. “Our prayers have been answered, everyone is safe.”

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