Authorities are now saying that hackers set off emergency sirens overnight Tuesday in southern Dallas County. It's now a criminal investigation.
City officials in DeSoto and Lancaster say that someone with "hostile intent" targeted the outdoor warning siren network and set them off at about 2:30 a.m.
People in Lancaster, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Red Oak and Duncanville all contacted FOX 4 after they were awakened by the sirens.
People were eventually notified through social media and a text messages alert system that it was a malfunction.
"It was just me and my wife and the first thing we did was look outside, look at the weather. Just kinda stood alarmed,” said Jesus Rojas. "We didn't see the wind. We didn't see nothing."
Phones at 911 call centers across the area were inundated with people calling to figure out what was happening. Lancaster police brought in extra help to handle the calls.
Lancaster resident Cody DeGrate was recording with this cell phone as the sirens blared in the background. He’d been sleeping but was startled awake and immediately worried that severe weather was on the way. He says he started checking social media for updates but initially didn’t find anything.
DeGrate says it wasn’t until much later he got a text alert from the city saying there’d been a malfunction with the sirens. He says by then he couldn’t get back to sleep and the sirens continued for about over an hour.
“It made me nervous because the tone is normally steady. They were winding up and down, so I thought we were in trouble,” DeGrate said.
“We got dressed and we had went and sat in the bathroom,” said Lovie Ward. “That’s how we had scared ourselves because it was so early in the morning.”
First responders had to manually shut off the sirens.
Warning sirens sounded in Dallas in 2017, That also turned out to be the work of a hacker.
The outdoor warning siren system in those cities affected is currently offline.
You can sign up for code red alerts in Lancaster and Desoto at the following links: