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Balloon popping mistaken for gunfire in Longwood Medical Area: Simmons, other institutions locked down

SWAT team in Longwood Medical Area

Police shutting down Longwood Medical Area on Huntington Avenue side. Photo by Wepainttheworld.

A report of gunfire around 2:40 p.m. sent Simmons University students and staff rushing into locked classrooms and even closets as Boston and Simmons police rushed to the campus to look for the "active shooter" that Simmons sent out an alert about.

Police, including specially trained K9 units, found no evidence of a shooter, shells or gunfire. But around 3:25 p.m., Boston police officers found several popped balloons behind Boston Latin School, which they determined was the sound of the retorts somebody had reported to Simmons police.

As police, including SWAT units, swarmed the area, Boston Latin itself was put into "safe" mode - students and staff were allowed to go about their routines inside, but nobody was allowed in or out of the building.

Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health told students and staff to shelter in place. MassArt was locked down. Temple Israel canceled afternoon Hebrew School.

Once they found the popped balloons, police began to leave - although some stayed behind to question some Boston Latin students about the balloons.

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Comments

yikes. Kid is still at school. He texted me to say school is in safe mode.

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Few people notice or remember, but the Harvard Longwood Campus has 3 graduate schools - the med school, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard dental school.

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Balloons or buffoons? It could go either way smh

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Could have also been balloons and a couple of pricks.

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was very fast on this. great job. i got a text from my friend who at time of writing just got a pic from me of this headline because he did not know it was a false alarm

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Not a F Troop episode.

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Now, if this had happened at Logan Airport.

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Whew, lucky it was just a balloon popping. It could have been a guy with an umbrella, then we would have had to call in two SWAT teams. /s

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Looks like the word "fart" on the right side, heh. :)

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I always called massart. Assfart. I thought that it was the official nickname isn't it?

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I like "AssMart" for conservation of letters.

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Phew, glad it was just folks bursting someone's balloon. I remember a similar incident where it turned out it had just rained on someone's parade.

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Time to outlaw balloons now!

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Maybe this will teach me to curb my addiction to bubble wrap...

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The city should send the bill to the school for the police OT.

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Why?

Because someone would naturally think that popping a balloon would cause a lockdown?

Um. Nope.

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I was on my way to pick up my daughter when the alert came through. Was a horrible 45 minutes of texting with her while I waited outside and she was huddled in the corner of a classroom.

Glad that it wasn't an actual shooter and everyone is OK, but this did take a mental toll on many of the students - and their parents.

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How closely related is the sound of a gun going off to that of a balloon popping?

If it is actually able to be distinguished maybe something could be incorporated into active shooter drills that show people what different things sound like.

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2007 - Mooninite scandal
2011 - Man with umbrella mistaken for a gun
2018 - Balloon scare

What else am I missing?

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