A mass text message warning New Jersey cell phone users of a "civil emergency" was sent out by Verizon Wireless earlier today as part of a "test emergency notification," the telecommunications company said.
In a response statement issued about two hours after the mass text was sent out, alarming some Garden State residents, Verizon Wireless apologized to its customers.
"This test message was not clearly identified as a test," company spokesman David Samberg said in an e-mailed statement to The Star-Ledger. "We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this message may have caused."
The emergency alert was sent out to New Jersey phone users in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties earlier this afternoon, citing a "civil emergency in this area until 1:24 p.m." and telling residents to "take shelter now."
Local police departments and county authorities said they received a high volume of 911 calls from residents concerned about the alerts and asking whether there was an actual emergency.
In response to the text alert, police in Rumson issued its own alert to citizens in the Monmouth County community: "THERE IS NO EMERGENCY. The 'take shelter' message that Verizon sent IS NOT a VALID message. DO NOT CALL THE POLICE."
"There is no reason to panic here," said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. "It is a false text done maliciously today at 12:27 p.m."
The text warning also prompted the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security to issue a special statement on Twitter this afternoon reassuring citizens there was no actual emergency.
Should have been carefully planned about prior to them sending these text.