BLUEMONT — Two Warrenton police officers received wounds that were not life-threatening in an accidental shooting at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center gun range in eastern Clarke County at about 11:10 a.m. Wednesday.
The officers were hit by a bullet that ricocheted off a metal target, according to a Warrenton police news release. Officer Chris Campbell was hospitalized at Inova Fairfax Hospital after being hit in the ribs. A source with knowledge of the shooting said Campbell was wearing his bullet-resistant vest, but the round hit him in an area not covered by the vest. Also wounded was Officer Matthew Eggers, who the news release said sustained a slight wound to the cheek.
Eggers has been an officer since November, according to the Warrenton Police Department’s Facebook page. Robinson joined the department in 2016, according to the Fauquier Times.
In an interview, interim Warrenton Police Department Chief Daniel Boring said he didn’t know who fired the shot that wounded the officers or if it came from weapons being used by Campbell or Eggers. Boring said he didn’t know if Campbell and Eggers were using their department-issued weapons at the range or personal weapons, and he refused to say what model and caliber pistol officers in the 27-member department carry.
Jenny Burke, a FEMA spokeswoman, said in an email that paramedics from the on-site Mount Weather Fire Department responded within minutes of the shooting. “At no time was there a danger to the facility personnel, visitors, or to the facility.”
Burke didn’t say if anyone has been shot on the range before or how many police departments or other law enforcement agencies use the facility.
“Mount Weather works closely with the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and police departments,” said Berl D. Jones Jr., Mount Weather executive administrator, regarding use of the range.
An hour after the shooting, operations appeared routine outside the secure facility at 19844 Blue Mountain Ridge Road. Dozens of civilian and government vehicles, including at least one Warrenton police vehicle, entered and exited at the front gate.
Mount Weather earned its name in the early 20th century when the site was acquired by the National Weather Service to launch weather balloons and kites for weather research, according to FEMA’s website. It was acquired by FEMA — now a branch of the Department of Homeland Security — in 1979. It serves as an emergency operations center with a variety of missions, some of which are secret. It is patrolled by federal police and has its own fire department.
FEMA’s website said a five-year “massive infrastructure upgrade” at the facility began in 2015.
— Contact Evan Goodenow at firstname.lastname@example.org