'San Antonio is being invaded!': Texas residents are woken by explosions and low flying military helicopters as US military captures the town in surprise training exercise
Residents living in San Antonio, Texas, were shaken from their sleep and rattled by loud explosions and low flying helicopters on Tuesday as the US military conducts training exercises in America's seventh largest city through Friday.
The training sessions are taking place for four days this week from 6pm until 3am, and they include air and ground mobility operations, and close-quarter combat training in a dark and realistic environment, San Antonio police shared on Facebook.
'The meetings and planning for this training event began months ago,' SAPD Police Chief William McManus said in a press release.
'Being that San Antonio is known as Military City, USA, we have a long history and strong relationship with the U.S. military, and we're honored to be able to provide support to the U.S. Army as they conduct this critical training in our city.,' he added.
Safety precautions were set in place to protect participants and residents, along with planning considerations to minimize impact to the community and private property.
San Antonio Police said it will also be on-site to ensure the safety of both citizens and participants.
However, footage shared on Twitter from local inhabitants shows loud noises of low-flying helicopters, mimicked gunfire and contained explosions at night that have unsettled several of the city's neighborhoods.
Josh Tovar, 19, told the San Antonio Express-News he felt his couch shake while he was playing the popular war game Call of Duty, which prompted him to go outside, only to notice two helicopters flying not far from his home on Hays Street.
The sound of two explosions near the Alamodome before six gunshots were fired came soon after at around 9.45pm.
The Express-News also reported four UH-60 Blackhawks circulating around the area, as well as four MH-6M Little Bird helicopters, both of which are part of the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
With word spreading around 'Alamo City' that the U.S. military is in town, city officials shared notice with residents on Sunday, although some locals would have preferred to have been warned earlier.
'Of course I would have liked to hear about it sooner,' San Antonio District 1 councilman Mario Bravo told the Express-News.
He added that he had found out about the training exercise only on Sunday and through local news.
'To me, it makes a lot of sense that we would have given much more advanced notice,' Bravo further said.
Nextdoor, an app designed for neighbors to communicate, apparently blew up as people described their first-hand experiences of noticing military personnel and aircraft in the area.
On Facebook, Michelle Morgan asked nearby residents why military helicopters were circulating in Dignowity Hill, in San Antonio's East Side neighborhood, the Express-News reported.
On TikTok, a downtown resident shared a video mentioning three helicopters had passed over her house three times, rattling the windows.
Another resident reported the military to police, while one person warned his neighbors: 'Beware: The Exercise is not Military. Lock your Doors. And be vigilant.'
San Antonio Police, however, said flyers were also sent out and distributed in all of the city's neighborhoods, although some residents complained that they didn't have any contact information for inquiries.
City authorities and law enforcement agencies were warned in advance about the training exercise.
'I would have liked to have known more about it so that I could prepare,' Bravo told the Express-News.
District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, who represents residents living in the city's East Side neighborhoods near the Alamodome, said his office hadn't received complaints regarding the military exercise, although he would have appreciated to have been warned more ahead of time.
'I do wish we were given more advanced notice, so we could coordinate and conduct community outreach sooner,' he told the Express-News.
On Tuesday afternoon, before the second of military operations took place, city officials left voicemails on residents’ phones warning them about potentially louder military activity in the area throughout the night.
People who sign up for alerts from the San Antonio Police Department and the AlertSA Program notification systems also received notices about the operation.
People signed up to receive alerts and notifications from the San Antonio Police Department and the AlertSA Program have been receiving updates about the military's presence.
Assistant City Manager Jeff Coyle told Mayor Ron Nirenberg and city council members through email that the city’s 311-call center had not received any complaints about the training on Tuesday afternoon.
SAPD dispatchers had also not received any 911 calls from residents, nor did the department’s non-emergency line.