Roanoke County has apologized for issuing a test alert to about 30,000 homes and businesses about a supposed escaped convict running loose on Interstate 81.
The county launched the alert using a new system it plans to roll out in a few weeks, called "RoCo Alert."
The alert said it was a test but still fooled enough people that the county's E-911 center saw a spike from worried callers.
The county then issued another phone alert explaining the error.
"The intention of the system is to give people information to make them feel safe and we actually had the opposite effect today," explained Bill Greeves, the director of communications and information technology for Roanoke County.
"We've certainly had a strong lesson learned to make sure that our training is tight," Greeves said.
The county spent $31,000 for the first year and launch of the system, which Greeves said may now be delayed until September.
Greeves said the county will also pay an annual subscription fee for the service of approximately $27,000.