An office building in suburban Washington that is occupied by USA Today and its publisher, Gannett, was evacuated Wednesday after police responded to reports of a man with a weapon.
Fairfax County police spokesman Sgt. Greg Bedor told CNN that police have responded to a caller saying they saw a man with a weapon at the building in McLean, Virginia. Police are not aware of any reports that shots have been fired, Bedor said, and a tweet from Fairfax County Police shortly after 1 p.m. ET said authorities had not found “evidence of any acts of violence or injuries.”
Police have evacuated the building as a precaution and are asking people to move to a different location, as is standard protocol. A police spokesman said a search was underway in the building, and a press briefing was expected for later Wednesday afternoon.
USA Today, in an update on Twitter, said that the report of a man with a gun was “mistaken.” But an all-clear has not been given to the paper’s staff, according to one USA Today employee.
The incident comes amid a heightened nationwide alert to gun violence following weekend shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Newsroom staffers tweeted videos from the scene after they were evacuated and described a heavy police presence, and top editors gathered along with others from the newsroom and listened to the police scanner for updates on the search of the building.
“Fingers crossed this is just a false alarm,” USA Today sports digital producer Casey Moore wrote on Twitter.
The evacuation and some false claims on social media about an “active shooter” sparked concern for Gannett staffers and their loved ones.
Taylor Maycan, a podcast producer at USA Today, tweeted, “I never expected to be on the receiving end of a call from my parents — breathless, panicked + completely terrified — asking if I’m alive and OK. And I never want to be again.”
Gannett’s offices in McLean handle newsroom operations and corporate functions like marketing and circulation. The company is the country’s biggest newspaper publisher by circulation, with its flagship USA Today and dozens of smaller papers.