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APD says scene at Seton Northwest hospital was not an active shooter incident

First responders are gathered in a parking lot east of Ascension Seton Northwest Hospital after gunshots were reported.
Haya Panjwani
First responders are gathered in a parking lot east of Ascension Seton Northwest Hospital after gunshots were reported.

There was no active shooter and the area around Ascension Seton Northwest Hospital in Northwest Austin is safe, Austin police said Friday following earlier reports of gunshots. Roadways around the area should reopen soon.

The Austin Police Department responded to a call that shots were fired at the hospital Friday around noon. The department gave an update in a tweet just before 4 p.m. that officers had "secured the scene and it is safe." It added there were no injuries reported.

An unknown noise heard in the hospital emergency room was thought to be a gunshot, APD Sgt. Brian Preusse said during a news conference.

"But nothing was determined that there was actually a gunshot at the scene," he said.

Austin-Travis County EMS and other first responders went to the scene as a precautionary measure. Several roads were closed near the hospital, which is located at 11113 Research Blvd., causing traffic backups.

"Today was best-case scenario. We didn’t end up with anybody that we needed to transport anywhere. We didn't end up with any fatalities. We didn’t even end up with any patients. No one was injured," said Cpt. Christa Stedman with ATCEMS. "But the reason you saw the response that you saw today is because we would rather take an incident where we have a potential active attack situation and give that incident as many resources as we can, and then if we need to scale it back, we can scale it back."

As a precaution, some people in the hospital were placed on lockdown, and some were evacuated, Preusse said.

Near the scene Friday afternoon, Holly Freed, a social worker in the hospital’s emergency department, told KUT that she was advised to leave the building.

“I was just sitting at my desk and about to go see a patient, and we got a knock on the door from the nurse, and they told us they heard gunshots in the ER and that we needed to wait there for a minute,” she said. “And maybe not even 30 seconds later, someone came back and said no, get out, you need to evacuate right now. And so we just all left the ER. We told the patients waiting in the waiting room to leave. We were told to get out, and I let my case managers know what was happening, because they sit in a different floor than I do.”