Skip to comments.Preparing for the worst (Gun-free Criminal Empowerment Zones)
Posted on 03/11/2004 4:52:01 AM PST by TERMINATTOR
The gun is fake, but this exercise in terror is real
A janitor spots a man in a black face mask, carrying a shotgun, heading toward a John Glenn Middle School rear entrance through the parking lot. The janitor grabs a phone and dials 911.<!ENDSUMM!>
Moments later a "Red Alert" is sounding over the school's public address system and people are scrambling into classrooms, hiding, shutting doors, "locking down." A shooter has entered the building.
It is only a drill. The gun is fake - a plastic cowboy variety. The bomb eventually planted in front of a classroom door is an empty propane tank with a few stray, ornamental, wires. The periodic sound of loud gunfire is played from a boom box. The "shooter," Rick Barbato, is a high school student who plans to study criminal justice and one day return to Bedford as a police officer.
"It was really weird, completely uncharted territory," said Barbeto. "You don't go into school with a gun, even a fake gun - it was weird."
The drill was conducted last Wednesday, during the afternoon of a school early release day, in order to simulate a situation that has never occurred in Bedford and, hopefully, never will. The mock crises involved the police, almost all school teachers and administrators, the fire department, three fire engines, three ambulances, and a medivac helicopter that set down in St. Michael's parking lot, a "staging point," to consummate the realism, and surrealism, of the exercise.
The exercise was used to evaluate the coordinated response of the involved parties and pinpoint soft spots, said officials.
"All school systems drafted crises plans," said Superintendent Maureen Laxcroix. "Since columbine there is urgency to have a detailed crises plan in place."
All officials acknowledged that this crises exercise was, more or less, in reaction to the 1999 Columbine Colorado school shooting when two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher, shocking the nation.
"I don't think Columbine is something any responsible school could ignore," said Laxcroix. "You can't say it won't happen someplace else. You must prepare."
According to police records recent gun related incidents in the Bedford school system are limited. In 2002 a student brought a cap gun into the school. Three "BB" gun rifles were seen on the rear seat of a high school student's car in November 2003.
The drill, intended to increase the town's preparedness, scripted a scenario that put two shooters in the school and had police officers enter the middle school building approximately 20 minutes later to apprehend the shooters or, failing that, "take them out."
"I basically tried to scare them, simulate what a real situation would be like, banging and rattling doors, yelling, swearing a little bit," said Barbato. Barbato reports that when he entered the school it was quiet with no one in sight, all the teachers, and teachers role-playing students, hiding in classrooms.
"I was bummed because I wanted to catch someone off guard," said Barbato. "I saw one person, and they were squeezed into the corner, and they saw me up against the door's glass. Obviously if I had a real gun I could get into the rooms and stuff, but ..."
Some might question the prudence of holding up inside a classroom, awaiting the response of law enforcement, instead of fleeing.
"Five hundred kids running past a guy with a gun isn't practical," said Fire Lt. Dave Grunes.
In Columbine the murderers sneaked their firearms into school and opened fire in a crowded cafeteria, without warning. The killing was long over before police arrived.
The first "shooter" in the middle school was "shot and killed" by Officer Thomas Devine in a main hallway.
"I ordered him to drop the weapon, and as he turned he squared off and I had to shoot him," said Devine.
"I wasn't trying to sneak around, because we didn't want to be there all day," said Barbeto. "I was in the middle of the hall and they came up behind me and they went 'bang-bang,' and that was it."
Devine cuffed Barbato and left him in the hallway to continue "clearing" the school. Once the officers had proceeded Barbato pulled a dummy from a janitor's closet, to serve as the downed shooter, and assumed the role of "another terrorist guy."
Barbato later hid and sprung out to shoot Devine.
"As we were going by the gymnasium another bad guy popped out of the door and I took one in the stomach," said Devine, pointing at a sign around his neck that read, "I've been shot in the abdomen, I can't move, and I can't feel my legs."
Barbeto carried several signs to hand out, including ones that described the victim as being shot in the arm, chest, and leg. Barbeto himself wore a "leg wound" sign around his neck and was transported to the medivac helicopter.
The school will be debriefing and fully analyzing the exercise this week but all officials stated that it went smoothly.
"We anticipated communication issues, between different departments and the school, and that's probably something that can still be improved," said Lt. Scott Jones.
b) Ventilate the perp, then call 911 for "pickup"?
As they are across America. School shootings are a very rare occurance, regardless of what the media might have you believe.
Obviously this "crisis plan" stinks!
Oooh a cap gun and three BB guns, scary. Nanny (state) protect me, Wahhh!