USA Today headquarters in McLean, Virginia, has been evacuated after reports of a “man with a weapon,” according to the Fairfax County Police. The police force tweeted just before 12:30 p.m. on August 7 that they were responding to the Gannett Building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive in McLean due “reports of a man with weapon.” Police were first called to the building just before 11:56 a.m. local time.
There is nothing to suggest that this is an active shooter event. McLean is located a little over 10 miles west of Washington D.C. Gannett is the largest newspaper publisher in the United States.
Matthew Keys, citing law enforcement sources, says that investigators feel that the reports may be unfounded. While USA Today’s Julia Thompson reports that after talking to a federal source who said, “Reports of a shooter appear to have been mistaken.” Keys later reported that company employees were being asked to work remotely for the rest of the day. USA Today quoted an employee of Appian, another business in the building, Akhil Kota, 21, who told the newspaper, “We’ve been drilled so well in school on this.”
The Gannett building hosts multiple other non-media businesses. USA Today reports that Fairfax County Police were searching for a man who is a former employee of a business located at the address. Officials did not name that man as he is only being treated as “person of interest.” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. told the media in an initial briefing, “We all pray that this will be a non-event.” Later, a tweet from the department said that officers had not found “evidence of any acts of violence or injuries.”
USA Today editor Alex Ptachick tweeted, “We’ve evacuated the building. There’s a heavy police presence and officers are asking if we have seen or heard anything suspicious.” Ptachick later tweeted that staff was asked to evacuate because “there was an emergency in the building.” Photos and videos shared by employees of USA Today show massive law enforcement response to the area while the staff appears calm.
There have been no reports of any shots fired or of any injuries at the time of writing. This evacuation comes a few days after the nation was rocked by separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio, which claimed the lives of over 30 people.
Following the June 2018 shooting at the Capital Gazette, which claimed the lives of five employees, USA Today was one of the media organizations that boosted security.