Active shooter false alarm causes damage to Rochester business
ROCHESTER, Ind.--Misinformation led to confusion and panic in Rochester this weekend. False reports of an active shooter at the Peace Tree Village shopping center. At R.P Home and Harvest, guests and staff were rushed out of the store Sunday afternoon after seeing reports of an active shooter in the building.
Sergeant Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police said he and the responding officers did not take the threat lightly.
“As police officers, we took it as a serious event,” said Sgt. Slocum. “We don’t have the luxury of hindsight every time.”
It started as a domestic dispute at a Rochester home less than a mile away from Peace Tree Village Plaza, but it quickly turned into panic as rumors spread online about an active shooter roaming the streets.
After a string of deadly mass shootings in the US over the weekend, people told me they feared the worst. Gene Koontz has lived in Rochester for 45 years and said he was surprised because not much happens in the small, rural community.
“You’ve been hearing about the shootings other places and how horrible they are,” said Koontz. “I’m thinking this is Rochester, come on.”
In this case, the rumors stayed as just that: rumors. One call to police and RP’s corporate office and the building was shut down and locked. When officers got to the scene, they could not enter the locked down building and had to use a police car to get inside. Thankfully, they found nothing.
Although it was a false alarm, Sgt. Slocum is still asking people to be watchful of suspicious activity.
“We don’t want people going out there living their lives in fear,” said Slocum. “To be in an active shooter situation, the odds are really small but again, they’re not zero. We ask people when they’re out in public to pay attention, to report anything unusual to law enforcement, not necessarily putting it on the internet or social media. We’ll continue our training, and we rely on them to be our eyes and ears."
ABC57 has reached out to RP Home and Harvest for comment but they have not returned our requests.