by Dave Warner

Little Falls Hospital went into ‘lockdown’ mode late last evening for approximately an hour during what local officials are calling an ‘active situation’.

Shortly after the incident, Mayor Mark Blask posted on Facebook the following statement, “Little Falls residents, you may have heard or seen reports of an active shooter on Burwell Street earlier this evening. Please know that there was never a shooter who posed a threat to the community. There was a situation that resulted in tragedy. Due to the sensitive nature of the event and out of respect for the family I will not be providing any other information. There will be a press release issued tomorrow. All streets in Little Falls are now open. Thank you to the local law enforcement agencies who responded tonight.”

According to a press release this morning from Little Falls Police Chief Ronald J. Petrie:

“On October 24th, 2019 at about 7:15 PM the Little Falls Police Department received a call requesting a check of the welfare on an individual who resided on Burwell Street. Upon the officer’s arrival, they made observations that caused concern for officer safety and additional resources were requested. The additional resources included a response from the Village of Herkimer and Village of Mohawk Police Departments Emergency Response Team. Also included in the initial response were the New York State Police and the Little Falls Fire Department. As the situation progressed NYS Environmental Conservation Police, Herkimer County Sheriff’s Department, and the Herkimer County DA’s Office arrived at the scene. This response set up a perimeter and took steps to ensure the safety of the neighbors in the area affected. Due to the proximity of the Little Falls Hospital, they followed their internal protocols and went into lockdown. The lockdown procedure of the hospital was precautionary and NOT in response to any active shooter. The actual event came to a conclusion when the subject of the initial welfare check was located and found to be deceased. No additional information will be released about this individual out of respect for that person and their family and friends. The streets were reopened and the ‘lockdown’ at the hospital was released at about 10:30 PM,” he said.

Petrie continued, “I would like to thank all the agencies who responded to assist during this situation. It is comforting to know our police and fire department, and our neighboring agencies are available to assist us in such an efficient and professional manner. Additionally, I would like to thank the staff of the Little Falls Hospital for their professionalism and their assistance during this event. Our thoughts are also with the family and friends of the deceased.”

“In closing, I feel a need to address the issue of misinformation on social media. Anyone using social media accounts should really think before you post information you do not know to be accurate. The number of rumors and misinformation distributed on social media at a very quick pace continues to cause problems for emergency service professionals during events such as this. The distraction from the important task at hand to address the rumors, along with additional problems caused by the misinformation, takes resources away from the real issues being dealt with. I would strongly urge everyone with a social media account to think about what you are posting, and how it can and will affect those involved, especially when it’s not accurate, and sometimes seemingly fabricated information,” stated the Chief.

Little Falls Hospital CEO, Michael L. Ogden said, “Little Falls Hospital was notified by local police agencies last evening of an incident occurring in the immediate vicinity of the hospital which resulted in a “lockdown” of the hospital. Following the hospital emergency preparedness plan the hospital implemented lockdown protocols at 7:45 p.m. No patients, staff or visitors were in harm’s way as a result of the incident. The staff performed as educated and trained. Little Falls Hospital administration, in addition to support from the Bassett Healthcare Network Security and Emergency Operations, were kept informed and engaged with all appropriate agencies. The lockdown was cleared at 10:30 p.m.”