Cross Co. schools receive first-ever active shooter training

Published: Mar. 19, 2014 at 2:19 AM CDT
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CHERRY VALLEY, AR (KAIT) - Local sheriff's departments, police officers, firemen, dispatchers and paramedics from a total of five counties invaded Cross County High School Tuesday for the county's first-ever active shooter training.

"It was crazy," senior D. J. Roberts said. "You hear the gun shots out there, people yelling. We picked up all of our tables and chairs in the room and put them up against the window to protect ourselves."

"I was sitting there trying to calm everyone down," senior Elizabeth Bowden said.

"I was thinking, 'Oh, man. That guy's got a gun and I'm pretty sure he's coming at me,'" junior Riley Stephens said. "He had his arm around me and a gun to my side. The cops came in and they took him down so I was kind of happy that I didn't get shot."

Once officers removed the threat, students were faced with even more emotions.

"You see all the stuff on TV and you're kind of feeling how they were feeling," Bowden said.  

"It's actually pretty scary," Roberts said. "You've got to keep calm and listen to your teacher."

"I got scared, even though I knew about it," Stephens said. "It kind of freaked me out a little bit."

Students said they were more 'freaked out' about who the pseudo shooter was: their janitor and a pastor in the area. 

"I felt betrayed," Roberts said. "I was scared because I saw him coming with the gun and I was like, 'Oh my gosh!'"

"I thought it was going to be somebody I didn't know," Bowden said. "It was weird seeing him do it. And then having my friend, somebody I know, taken like that touched me a little bit."

Students said it was a good lesson that a shooting could happen to anyone, anywhere. 

"This was as real as we've ever had," Stephens said. "It got me awake now to be alert for everything."

"Since we did this, it did open our eyes," Bowden said. "It happens and we need to be prepared."

The school and law enforcement will keep running drills like this to make sure of that. 

"The more you practice, the better you're going to get," emergency management coordinator Rusty McClain said. "You hear more and more about shooters in schools and it's just something you normally don't practice. 

"We now know the things that we need to work on and I think from this, we'll only improve and, hopefully, we'll be prepared if something does happen," superintendent Carolyn Wilson said.

McClain and Wilson said the biggest takeaway from the drill was lack of communication.

"I want us to get a radio system that we can use in emergency situations," Wilson said. "We're out now looking for grants."

"Some of the weaknesses we had were the communication from within the teams of law enforcement, and for dispatch, not enough information coming in from the inside," McClain said. "Then, with the school having inside radios among themselves, they can also communicate together about where the problems may be in the school."

McClain said the school and officers will run a similar drill soon with these changes.

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