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Active Shooter Alert App Triggers False Alarm at Florida Elementary School

More than 35 police officers received an active shooter alert after school personnel accidentally triggered it believing a new app was in test mode.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — There are annoying nuisance alarms, and then there are really regretful false alarms. Such was the case this week at an elementary school here that narrowly averted a massive police response after a new active shooter app inadvertently disseminated an alert.

On Tuesday morning, educators at Merriam Cherry Street Elementary School were testing SchoolGuard, an app that when triggered instantaneously sends an alert to the mobile phones of all federal, state and local law enforcement officers within a certain radius to the site of the alarm.

School Safety and Security Chief Mike Jones said the district had just started using the app Monday and only two schools were set up to use it, one of those being Cherry Street, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

Jones, who received the alert on his phone, immediately called the school and was told by school staffers they had accidentally triggered the alert when they thought the app was in test mode. Jones then called Panama City Police, Panama City Beach Police and his own officers to inform them about the false alarm and to stand down, while his dispatchers called Springfield and Parker Police, and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the newspaper reports.

Panama City Police told the Northwest Florida Daily News the alert caused a “massive” response on their end. About eight minutes after the alert went out, 37 law enforcement officers in the area had acknowledged the alert and were ready to or were actively responding.

“This shows that it works,” Jones said following the event.

On its social media accounts, Bay District Schools let parents know what had happened.

“The good news is the app works for sure and generates an amazing response from law enforcement,” the account tweeted. “Our apologies for the false alarm.”

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