Officers track two assailants in more realistic scenario
An active shooter training exercise at the Purdy schools on Monday brought law enforcement, firefighters and ambulance crews to the school for the second time in a year and a half.
Superintendent Steven Chancellor said the exercise is part of an ongoing effort to make the school safer. He noted that twice the district has had a parent say, "I'm getting my gun and I'm coming to get my kids." While around seven years have passed since there was a person who died in a school fire, and fire drills are held fairly frequently, tornadoes and active shooters, he noted, have become much more probable scenarios.
The scenario called for two active shooters, both entering from the west, coming down the elementary and high school hallways. Teachers were in their rooms. Loud bangs from firearm blanks rang through the hallways, followed by a loudspeaker announcement that the school was going into lock down mode. Several "victims" had been strategically placed in hallways for responding law enforcement to encounter.
Monitoring the response were Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe, Barry County Sheriff Gary Davis and Chancellor and Associate Superintendent Mindi Gates. Davis said he staggered the arrival of his officers, coming in groups 5-15 minutes after the initial shots were fired to more realistically reflect how his deputies would arrive, likely coming from more distant corners of the county.
A second team of two officers from the county arrived shortly after the first and gained access through the gym atrium. The lead officer said he would have broken the door if necessary to enter. The two teams of officers merged, taking defensive positioning as they advanced, meeting the second active shooter in the elementary hallway, where shots were exchanged. The second team led the advance this time, ultimately securing a suspect.
Officers were unsure that only two shooters were involved. Consequently, as more help arrived, officers gradually advanced down all the halls, some multiple times, looking for possible hiders. Casualties were taken to the school gym.
Several teachers noted they heard gunshots before they received the lock down notice. Davis said that should be expected. In fact, if intruders shot at the main office first, a lock down notice would likely not come at all.
While this week's drill was more realistic, participants agreed that in a real situation, more people would wander the hallways, creating unexpected targets, and teachers would not likely huddle down as easily. Davis recalled another drill where teachers secured students in their rooms, but the children spent time watching the activity out the window in plain sight.
story by Murray Bishoff (truncated)