IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – It looked and sounded like a repeat of the Newtown tragedy; but this was only a drill in Irving. Police and the school district held an active shooting drill that was scheduled months before the Sandy Hook tragedy.
More than 100 people played roles in the drill, including High School Police Explorers playing students and some IISD administrators playing staff. Police bomb squad, bomb robots, and first responders went over a scenario where two gunmen carried pipe bombs into Bowie Middle School.
In the drill one of the gunmen clumsily killed himself when one of his bombs went off. The other suspect terrorized the school – firing shots, taking hostages and planting other bombs to make the scene appear real. In the scenario the remaining gunman was eventually talked into giving up after negotiating with police.
The school district’s director of safety operations says in this scenario teachers and administrators have one primary duty. “When there’s a dangerous scenario the only thing we want our staff doing is pulling kids in classrooms, turning lights off, and get them out of the line of sight and the line of fire,” according to Pat Lamb.
Julia Durham and Shayna Richardson are high school seniors who portrayed students trapped in the hallways.
“They had explosions going off, they had gunshots going off,” says Durham, “and it was very realistic. It was very, like, ‘Whoa, whoa!’ you didn’t know what was going on, you could hear screaming in the halls. It was pretty intense.” Richardson agreed. “It was kind of scary,” she said adding, “Yeah, it was really realistic, it kind of got my adrenalin pumping.”
Erin Anderson was an adult volunteer for CERT, the Citizens Emergency Response Team. “I was nervous, I knew it was a drill but I was still shaking and everything.” She portrayed a woman who was slightly injured during a rush to flee the school but was able to give first responders information on the make-believe shooter. “I was glad to be in the daylight, even though I knew everything that was going on was part of a scenario I was still glad to be out of there.”
Anderson says these drills are a good lesson on what to do if ever faced with a real crisis. “The more people know to listen to first responder – do what they say, don’t resist, just go with the flow—then everyone will be more safe in the end.”
Irving Police PIO John Argumaniz says this is the latest of several real-time drills the department has done in the past, including ones at the Irving Convention Center and at a DART Orange Line station. “We wanted to see how they’d react when different scenarios were given to them. It’s an opportunity for us to pursue the training and an opportunity for us to evaluate how the officers performed.”
Red-shirted observers closely watched the drill and evaluated performances.
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