Active shooter training a wake-up call for students and staff

Active shooter training (WISH Photo/ Jeff Wagner)

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – The Indiana State Police hosted a “Safe School/Active Shooter” training session at Old John Beard Elementary School Friday. The training comes on the heels of Governor Mike Pence signing a new bill allowing legal gun owners to leave their weapon in a car in a school parking lot.

“Seeing the shooter was absolutely terrifying,” said student participant Andrew Thompson.

“Even when you know it’s not real, it was still scary because there’s gunshots right next to my head,” said student participant Elizabeth Hutson as she described how she hid in the bathroom. “I can hear him kicking the door.”

In a four minute span, the “shooter” marches down the hall looking only for unlocked doors and another chance to kill.

“They don’t care about anybody else’s lives, they just want to take as many as they can,” said Sgt. Kim Riley, Indiana State Police.

The shooter is actually a state trooper. But in the eyes of the frightened students, it’s the real deal.

“Your life is in his hands and he really does not want you to walk out of that building alive,” Thompson said.

And just when they think help has arrived, one officer wasn’t enough. Two student participants frantically ran towards him, but only made matters worse.

“Now he’s distracted towards them,” Sgt. Riley said referencing the officer. “The shooter comes out and takes them all out.”

It’s mistakes like that officers hope school administrators will learn from when it’s not just an actor scaring them into a panic.

“You think maybe you’ve got everything planned out logically, but it doesn’t work out that way. Your brain gets a little scrambled when everything starts for real,” said Scott Bowling, Assistant Superintendent for Crawfordsville Schools.

He was one of dozens of principals, superintendents, and other administrators from around the area observing the training.

His stress only rises that a new law will allow gun owners to keep their firearm in a car in a school parking lot.

“Quite frankly, we’re a little disappointed in that, we’d like to keep guns as far away from school as possible,” he said.

But Friday, they were inside. Thankfully, several of them were also in the right hands. At the end of the drill, a team of officers including state and local police, as well as sheriff’s deputies, shoot the suspect before more lives are lost.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do this,” said Thompson.

“It does affect you,” said Sgt. Riley. “and if it doesn’t there’s something wrong.”

Almost all of the students involved are in theater and show choir – which helped make the reenactments feel real.

This was the third time State Police held a training session like this in the Lafayette district.

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