At around 10:10 am this morning (9/11), reports of ‘shots fired’ began circulating around the internet and on cable news. Below is a breakdown of the timeline and conflicting reports, according to USA Today:
CNN is reporting that the Coast Guard has fired on a boat on the Potomac River.
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET: The report of some activity on the river comes only minutes after President Obama concluded 9/11 memorial ceremonies at the Pentagon not far away.
Update at 10:12 a.m. ET: CNN says the Coast Guard fired 10 rounds at the boat.
Update at 10:14 a.m. ET: CNN broadcasts what it says is audio of the Coast Guard apparently speaking to a suspicious boat. The Coast Guard speaker is heard saying; “Slow down or you will be fired on.”
Update at 10:27 a.m. ET: The AP quotes the Coast Guard as saying training was being conducted in Potomac River moments before Obama motorcade crossed. [This is a really dumb time to practice this ‘exercise’, isn’t it?]
Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: CNN quotes two police sources as saying the incident was a possible Coast Guard training exercise.
Update at 10:32 a.m. ET: Fox News quotes Coast Guard Chief Keith Moore as saying no shots were fired as part of the exercise. [NO SHOTS? Huh?]
Update at 10:33 a.m. ET: Reuters quotes an FBI spokeswoman as saying the agency was told by the Coast Guard that no shots were fired at a boat in the Potomac.
Update at 10: 41 a.m. ET: NBC’s Pete Williams, quoting a “senior Coast Guard official,” says the incident was just an exercise to “challenge response times.”
Williams says the exercise was strictly a “radio exercise” and did not involve any boats or any firing by the Coast Guard. Williams reports that a “citizen” overheard the radio exercise and passed that along to some news organizations, which broadcast reports of possible shot being fired.
Update at 10: 53 a.m. ET: USA TODAY’s Kevin Johnson reports that the Coast Guard say that no shots were fired and that the incident involved a “radio exercise.” Johnson says the Coast Guard is preparing a statement for release in a few moments, which we will carry.
As of now (11:15 am), FOX News is reporting that the Coast Guard will address the press in about fifteen minutes. If this event truly was an ‘exercise’, why didn’t the press know about it? One would think that on 9/11 such an exercise would either be rescheduled or at least announced. The timing is also suspect. The report of ‘shots fired’ took place just moments before the President was scheduled to cross the Potomac bridge. According to The Guardian:
An apparent US coastguard exercise on the Potomac river in Washington DC caused panic today moments before Barack Obamaand his motorcade crossed a nearby bridge amid heightened security on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
It’s a fact that the 9/11 attacks took place during a planned exercise, so hearing that this is just an exercise isn’t all that comforting. At the very least, the Coast Guard made a very bad decision.