This article was updated at 8:50 a.m. Aug. 28, 2014, to reflect new information about use of the BB gun to scare away pigeons at the medical center.
WENATCHEE — A 90-minute lockdown of Wenatchee Valley Medical Center ended tonight with no injuries or arrests after police learned a BB gun — not a real rifle — had been carried into the building by a clinic employee.
“Luckily nothing serious happened and no one was hurt,” said Incident Commander Capt. Kevin Dresker of the Wenatchee Police Department. “But it took us more than an hour to learn about the BB gun because this is a complex building with complex activities.”
The Wenatchee Police was lead agency in the lockdown and subsequent search. They were joined by officers from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, the State Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and hospital security staff.
The lockdown at the medical center, operated by Confluence Health, began around 4:30 p.m. when a witness reported seeing a man walk into the building’s east entrance with a rifle butt extending from under his coat. The witness immediately reported the sighting.
“As it turned out, the sighting was bona fide,” said Wenatchee Police Chief Tom Robbins. “But it was a BB gun, not a rifle.”
According to Robbins, the man is an employee of the medical center’s maintenance staff. Scaring away pigeons is not his primary job, said the chief, but pigeons had become a maintenance issue on the roof. A maintenance department employee said the state Department of Fish and Wildlife had indicated the BB gun would be an acceptable method to scare away pigeons, said the chief.
The BB gun was carried by the employee to the medical center’s maintenance shop but had not yet been used, said Robbins. When the employee was eventually contacted, he was not on-site and had left the facility.
Immediately following the lockdown, three teams of law officers and medical center security staff searched floor to floor for the man. In the facility’s south parking lot, hospital staff advised arriving patients and family members on the lockdown and its effects on clinic operations.
Around 5:30 p.m., groups of medical center staff and patients were allowed to leave the building, and by 6 p.m. the lockdown was declared over.
“I’m relieved,” said one staff member headed for her car. “I just want to go home.”
Said Chief Robbins, “All in all, it was a good exercise. We pulled together an excellent team to perform hard and stressful work, and nobody got hurt. I’d say they did a pretty good job.”