Realistic Gun Attack Drills In Schools Frighten Students and Teachers

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Staged massacre drills have become a trend at public schools in order to prepare students for school shootings.

In Oregon, one drill involved a masked "gun man" entering the library, where 15 teachers were gathered in a meeting. The teachers did not know it was fake until they realized the gun was shooting blanks.

But the drill revealed a grim outcome, as only two of the 15 went "unhurt."

"I'll tell you, the whole situation was horrible," elementary school teacher Morgan Gover said. "I got a couple in the front and a couple in the back."

There have been many similar scenes across the country, involving students and teachers who are not warned about it being a drill.

One Chicago high school ran a "code red" drill, with the gunmen shooting blanks in January. Another school in Indiana also ran a drill, with student actors covered with fake blood, lying on the ground. 

An El Paso, Texas school set up a surprise lockdown last year, with a gunman entering the school. It angered many parents, especially one, Stephanie Belcher, whose son sent her a text message in the middle of the panic.

"He said, 'I'm not kidding. There's gunshots and people screaming and we were locked in a storage closet,'" Belcher said. "These kids thought that their classmates were being killed and that they could be next. There's no excuse for that."

But the assistant superintendent said it is necessary in order to prepare students for the possibility of an actual shooting.

"It's an active shooter drill," Pat O'Neill said. "We do this every now and then. If you warn too many people, then the simulation is not effective."

New York City public schools have also been implementing drills, including "soft" and "hard" ones. In the drills, teachers evacuate the building or lock the doors and continue with classes.

They have also tried out surprise drills. One drill at East Harlem's Public School 79, for special needs children, was realistic enough to prompt one teacher to call the cops.

"It was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life," a teacher said.

Now, a new policy will require the schools to conduct at least two planned lockdowns every year. School leaders also must go through a two-hour summer training program. 

"Everybody is concerned about the security of children, particularly in light of the incidents," spokeswoman for the principals union Chiara Coletti said. "No one is balking at this."

After the Sandy Hook massacre, a business boom was created to train schools how to better protect their students.

Response Options, a Texas-based company, has 18 instructors with military or law enforcement backgrounds go to schools and train them how to react to "active shooter and violent intruder events."

"It's spreading very, very quickly," Marianne Alvarez, director of training, said. "We are booked up for the next few months straight. We're glad, because they're making their schools safer."

The sessions can be up to two hours for two days. One-day sessions cost $2,500 each.

"The object is to manage that confusion of a shooting as best we can," Lamine Secka, police captain, said. "It's really just a matter of giving people options. These are usually over within five to seven minutes, certainly 15, and they end by the time…when police show up. The plan is to give people things to do in that window to increase their odds of surviving."

Sources: NY Daily News, CBS