Brentwood residents heard their neighborhood transform into a warzone Thursday night, as military helicopters descended and troops performed a training exercise with simulated explosions, gunfire and bright flashes of light in an abandoned Capital Boulevard hotel.

“Several smaller explosions were strong enough to blow your clothes against you,” said Stephanie Lormand, who watched the training from across the street with a group of neighbors. “The big one set off car alarms. It’s the loudest sound I ever heard.”

Although neighbors were warned, the exercise was louder and more intense than anticipated. City Manager Ruffin Hall said he won’t be approving future training operations near residential neighborhoods.

Residents in the area began noticing an increased police presence Thursday afternoon and some received fliers warning them of the training.

“Noises associated with the training will include loud noises, helicopter flyovers and simulated weapons fire,” the shoddy flier warned. “We apologize for any disturbance that this may cause and we thank you for supporting the U.S. Army while we train in your community.”

Police shut down Capital Boulevard near the former Capital Plaza Hotel just after 11 p.m. and not long after several low-flying helicopters with no lights on descended on the hotel, kicking up dust and debris. Soon after the explosions and gunfire began, witnesses say, lighting up the sky near the hotel. In between smaller explosions and automatic weapon fire were about ten extremely loud booms, neighbors said.

TW: this video=loud gunfire, explosions, helicopters.
Capital Blvd in Raleigh, NC- was closed the Army and the Raleigh @raleighpolice for training. Training *us* to view this as necessary & normal rather than question why not on base? #ralpol

— Stephanie Lormand (@stephlormand) March 29, 2019

A crowd of just over a dozen in the neighborhood gathered across the street to watch, including Lynne Walter, who said she could feel the shockwaves from the blasts. Councilor David Cox was also there, and described the scene as “surreal.”

“It was like watching a movie,” Cox said. “I think the thing that surprised everyone was that it was a lot louder than even we expected.”

Walter lives a half-mile from the hotel and said many in her neighborhood were not warned of the exercise and could hear the blasts. She was furious the city allowed it to happen so close to people’s homes.

“I was extremely infuriated that urban warfare training exercises were being carried out in my neighborhood late at night,” Walter said. “This should not happen in our neighborhood and this should not happen in any neighborhood.”

The training was conducted by the U.S. Army Special Operations, which has partnered with the city before for such exercises, Hall wrote in an email to the mayor and city council. Ruffin approved the army’s request to train in the hotel, noting that the public is typically not notified “broadly” to avoid attracting onlookers. Raleigh police assisted with the training.

“The exercise turned out to be louder and more disruptive to the nearby neighborhood than the City anticipated given our understanding of the proposed conditions,” Hall wrote to the mayor and city council. “Upon review and lessons learned, I would not approve an exercise of this scale and disruption adjacent to a neighborhood in the future.”

The INDY reached out to the U.S. Army asking about the purpose of the training and received a response from the U.S. Army Pentagon just after 6 p.m. stating a spokesman would follow up Friday afternoon. 

The training involved “simulated munitions and aircraft,” said Raleigh police department spokeswoman Donna-Maria Harris. She did not disclose how many officers participated in the training.

“This was a routine training conducted to maintain a high level of readiness since soldiers must be ready to support potential missions anywhere,” Harris said.

The training should never have happened so close to residents and with such little warning, said Lormand

“I don’t appreciate them playing war games in my neighborhood,” she said. “There is no reason for me to know what that sounds like.”

2 replies on “The Army Descended on Capital Boulevard Last Night for a Training Exercise and Brentwood Residents are Pissed”

  1. The city of Raleigh absolutely let the Brentwood community and really, all of us. down by treating the residents like they were meaningless when they OK’d a military training action on a weekday night this week. By distributing some poorly crafted flyers only hours ahead of this serious and dangerous activity without addresses and contact numbers to field questions and responses, only some people were made aware that the night was going to turn into a living hell of explosions and helicopters flying in the dark. For every gung ho yahoo that has clapped back on the neighbors who have been under siege and are righteously upset, I say, it’s NOT OK to have NO SAY in your home being turned into a freaking sonic game zone by the military who have a base of their own to bomb to oblivion, while everyone wants a better aware and capable police force and army with tactical abilities, giving almost no notice to people because they want to minimize “onlooker’s, (and really stifle protest) is just plain dirty. The City council, the mayor and any persons in the know about this insanity need to be accountable. I can’t say our family felt well cared for, living 3 miles away I know that anything else that happened in our area was not going to receive the attention it might have needed and I seriously question what the plan was for re-routing emergency medical responders. I well understand having a large abandoned urban building that obviously has some uncontrolled access by homeless persons and others represents a stage to learn many aspects of management in various situations under pressure, there is also the aspect of accountability: who is this directed to? Who’s in charge? What’s the point and who are we training to go against? That is really what is going on. We have a country polarized and at odds with each other with behaviors that are nothing short of sick, being encouraged and given permission, Racist and fearful ignorance has ramped up and we have agencies committing terrible acts while “doing their jobs.”. We deserve better communication, integrity and intelligent response to our concerns. Rights are involved. Badly handled Raleigh.

  2. You’ll thank the military when they have to come save your butt’s !!
    The mom in this video with her “” kids at home asleep”” should watch her foul language!
    Thank you to our troops who are serving “us”” and the U.S.

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