The Chico’s FAS campus was on lockdown after there was an unconfirmed report of an active shooter Thursday morning.
According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, a security guard called to report an active shooter at the campus and hung up immediately. Chico’s says the guard received an anonymous call regarding the threat, and now investigators are searching for that person.
A text alert soon went out to Chico’s FAS employees warning of a “possible active shooter in the area” and the campus went on lockdown at 11:10 a.m.
Chico’s sent a follow-up text to employees reiterating the report was unconfirmed, and out of an abundance of caution LCSO was “sweeping the building and campus.”
Nobody inside the building was allowed to talk on camera, by phone or social media due to company policy. But, one person who works there sent a photo from inside.
In the photo, the lights are off, people are on their phones, and a bookcase is seen to barricade the door. Some employees were not allowed to leave until the afternoon.
A woman told us her child was in the on-campus daycare during the incident. While her child was safe, it was difficult for her being apart from her kids during the stressful incident.
The sheriff’s office said nobody was hurt during the incident. There was a large response by LCSO and other agencies who swept the campus at 11215 Metro Pkwy. in south Fort Myers, but no shooter has been found at this time.
Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, “We have not located a threat. The employees are safe. The children at the daycare are safe, and all the residents are safe in this location. Most importantly, there is no threat at this time.”
Storm Smart, which is next door to Chico’s, also went on voluntary lockdown out of an abundance of caution.
Chico’s headquarters also includes Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma brands, which all mainly sell women’s clothing and accessories. They have more than 1,400 stores all over North America.
Chico’s FAS, Inc. issued the following statement regarding a lockdown at its corporate campus in Fort Myers:
Earlier today, Chico’s FAS security personnel received an anonymous call regarding the threat of an active shooter in the area around its corporate headquarters facility in Fort Myers.
The security and safety of our employees is of paramount importance to Chico’s FAS. Local law enforcement and other emergency personnel were immediately notified, and are presently on site. As a precaution, and consistent with existing security protocols and policies, all employees were notified of the situation in real-time. A lockdown of all facilities has been initiated, and employees at the site have been instructed by local law enforcement to shelter in place at a secure location.
No actual shooter has been identified, and the Company is currently unaware of any injuries.
Chico’s FAS is working closely with local authorities to provide all information to ensure the corporate facilities are secure, investigate the threat and monitor the situation.
Did security guard follow protocol during 911 call?
We know the Chico’s security guard called Lee County Sheriff’s Office to inform law enforcement of the reported active shooter.
“He called advising that there was an active shooter at this location but then hung up,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a press conference.
We asked a law enforcement expert if the behavior by the security guard was breaking protocol with the way he behaved and were told it’s fairly typical of 911 callers.
“They’re so afraid they hang up the phone,” said Dr. David Thomas, an FGCU criminal justice professor. “We see it all the time. No matter what dispatch does to keep them on the line, they hang up.”
Thomas said that is when it’s important for dispatchers to reconnect with a caller to try to find more details for police.
“On that type of call, you want as much information as possible to know where to set up your resources and know that you aren’t rolling up into an ambush,” Thomas said.
Chico’s said it’s security guard did follow protocol, but LCSO is looking into the call.
“Our major crime unit and our detectives will investigate and find out why that call was made and all the above,” Marceno said.