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Altus police investigate morning shooting

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ALTUS, Okla._Altus residents got quite a scare Tuesday morning after police sent out a text alert about an active shooter on the loose and they should stay inside because the man was armed and dangerous.

Police told residents they were looking for man involved in a possible burglary that resulted in gunfire on the 700 block of Hayes. The man who lived there told police he came home around 8:30 a.m. and found someone inside his house. He said a shot was fired during the struggle before he wrestled the gun away from the intruder and fired shots at the suspect as he ran away, sending police on a search.

The fleeing suspect prompted the Altus Police Department to send out an alert to residents' phones through the city's emergency alert system, known as Blackboard.

The message told residents to look out for a man wearing a gray mask, gray hoodie, jeans, and tennis shoes. The message was supposed to go out to only the people living in a four or five block area around where the incident occurred, but instead it went out to more than 2,000 people.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Bell says they apologize for the mistake that caused citizens to panic.

"When we send out a Blackboard message, just read what is says on it and don't call the police department at that moment because there is so much going on that it overwhelms our dispatchers and it bogs down the system," explained Assistant Chief Bell.

And that's exactly what today's message did.

"It went out as a Hispanic male wearing a gray hoodie with black pants on. Well there are probably several Hispanic males walking around town matching that description. Since it went out farther than it should have of course we're going to have these calls coming in," said Assistant Chief Bell.

Bell says they called off their search after about an hour of finding no one matching that description.

"We didn't find any evidence at the time. We are going to have to let the investigation takes it's course and see where it leads us," said Assistant Chief Bell.

Bell says a second Blackboard message was sent out letting people know that the suspect had not been found, but they should return to their normal lives, for some this might not be very settling but he says there is no need to worry.

"Since the investigation is still going on, we have to wait to find out if there is a suspect. If that is what he actually looks like, how he was dressed. Of course when everything goes out in the beginning you're going by what the victim is telling you. A lot of times the victim doesn't know what he saw," said Assistant Chief Bell.

Police weren't able to say if the victim and suspect knew each other, but they did say the victim works for DHS in Altus.

The Oklahoma Inspector General, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol were called in to assist in the search.

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