Dallas' emergency siren system was hacked overnight, resulting in them sporadically sounding for about an hour and a half and forcing officials to have to shut down the system, they said Saturday.
Rocky Vaz, director of the city's Office of Emergency Management, said engineers determined an unidentified hacker somewhere in the Dallas area was responsible, but has not been tracked down. The city's Office of Emergency Management says there is no emergency and they are asking people not to call 911.
City leaders said they did not know how the hacker gained entry, but said they are investigating the matter. The city manually shut down parts of the system to turn off the city's 156 alarms - usually heard only during weather emergencies - by 1:20 a.m. Saturday.
The incident, initially labeled a "system malfunction", sparked an avalanche of anxious posts on social media and calls to the emergency 911 system.
Surrounding cities also reported hearing sirens, but officials confirmed only the sirens in Dallas were triggered. "We will work to identify and prosecute". A Google Trends feature revealed that the peak time people were searching online for information on why the sirens were blaring was at 11:48 p.m. The system is still down and the city is relying on other mass notification systems including reverse 911 and social media for emergencies.
Officials say there was a surge in calls to 911 when the sirens were going off. "Making the necessary improvements is imperative for the safety of our citizens", Mayor Rawlings said.