THE LOOP — Horrified office workers fled the AT&T Building Thursday afternoon after being notified of an active shooter — little did they know it was a scheduled training that someone forgot to tell them about.
Police responded to calls about an active shooter at 225 W. Randolph St. around 1 p.m. Thursday, police said.
Shortly after, they realized what they believed to be an active shooter drill happening in the building.
“We did not know in advance it was a drill,” a police spokeswoman said.
Office workers hid in conference rooms, the Tribune reported. One witness said people could be seen fleeing from the building sobbing.
But Phil Hayes, a spokesman for AT&T said it wasn’t a drill. He said a training class caused a false alarm in the building.
“This was an instructional training video — not a drill or formal exercise,” Hayes said in a statement. “We’re grateful to the Chicago Police, Fire and Emergency Management teams for their swift response and we are investigating the incident.”
Mariah Dampier, who works on 18th floor, said her managers were as baffled as she was by the commotion.
“We didn’t know what was going on at first,” Dampier said. “They just locked our floor, we weren’t able to go on the elevators, and when we did come down there were guns pointed at us.”
Whoever scheduled the training “should’ve informed us of this because we were scared,” Dampier said. “I started calling my mom, I didn’t know what was going on. With everything that’s going on in the world, you can’t be too sure.”
An hour after police arrived, she finally found out it was a training gone wrong.
“Our managers didn’t know anything, we just had to sit at our desk. What if it was a shooter here?”
Danielle Stringfellow also works in the building.
“Some guy in [group chat] said there were a bunch of police cars lined up outside, so of course everybody started panicking,” Stringfellow said. “Then the next second we all were rushed to the bathroom. We didn’t get much notice, people were panicking and crying for a second. Probably went on for maybe 20 minutes, and then when we left out they kept making announcements saying it was a fire drill, that somebody got something wrong.”
She said her team was shaken up by the whole experience and were leaving early.
“We really don’t know what happened, all we know is they were saying it was a false alarm. But people were still freaking out, because it’s like, why were there so many police cars? Why did they come out with guns and shields? We’re all leaving now to get a drink, because we’re stressed out,” Stringfellow said.
Rhonda Robles was heading to a neighboring building at 205 W. Randolph St. when she saw at least 10 police officers rushing in. Moments later, more officers arrived with even bigger guns and shields, followed by a SWAT team.
It was more than 30 minutes after police arrived that she found out it was a false alarm.
“I’m like, this looks pretty serious,” Robles said. “As that kept happening, everyone told us to clear out. It seemed pretty scary.”
“I’m glad everyone’s safe,” she added.
The building is owned by Kushner Companies, a New York-based real estate firm owned by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
In a statement, the company said it had “no knowledge of this incident as AT&T operates the building as the sole tenant on the lease.”