This afternoon marked the beginning of the Call of Duty World League's first event, in Dallas, Texas. The next few hours were punctuated with the type of excitement you expect at eSports events. Talented gamers faced off against one another, there were upsets and close calls. There was cheering and booing. Celebrations and heads hung in defeat.
Hundreds of people were gathered around a common banner, enjoyment of a game. The spacious convention center room was dark, but for the screens and concert-rave style lighting. Then the sounds of thumping music and announcers was cut by a rhythmic beeping. A white, strobing light washed over the scene. A voice announced an emergency and directed attendees to vacate the building.
There were a few moments of confusion, everyone looking to everyone else for direction, no one knowing the correct response. It wasn't until security personnel began ushering people outside that everyone started to move. There was no urgency, the assumption that someone had bumped a pipe or accidentally triggered an alarm.
Initial word from onsite authorities was that someone had exited, accidentally, through an emergency door and triggered the alarm. Then police cars began to arrive, first only a couple, then more and more. An odd response for an accidental alarm trigger. That's when yours truly decided to leave the area. Sadly, the state of our nation incubates massive acts of violence and something didn't feel right.
As I walked from the convention center to my hotel, a helicopter flew overhead and began circling the building. A visual confirmation that leaving the area was the right decision. That was almost four hours ago and the helicopter is still circling. Police are still on scene.
The city of Dallas has since released a statement indicating a bomb threat was called in to the convention center. Attendees, including the CWL event and participants in an upcoming local marathon, were evacuated out of "an abundance of caution." Other sources state that onsite security located a backpack full of "what appeared to be" dynamite.
At the time of publication, there is no official word either from CWL or local authorities regarding the legitimacy of the threat, however, the nature and longevity of the response lends a certain amount of weight. Additionally, we can only speculate as to the motive behind the act. At current, the remainder of CWL Dallas, scheduled to run through Sunday, is on hold. There is no official word regarding whether the event will continue in the morning.
This piece will be updated as more information is available.
UPDATE: CWL has announced the event will continue tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.