Oops, a cop just shot me ... twice in the back
RUSSELL FISH | 8/3/2015, 11:49 a.m.
Following the call, a patrol car with an officer and partner arrived at the school in just over a minute. “Students” and “teachers” were running out of the building as the officers entered with guns drawn. The officers faced immediate sensory overload. Some students and teachers were evacuating. Some were barricaded in classrooms. Some were “wounded” or “dying” in the hallways and stairwells. Officers faced a screaming, moaning, crying chaos.
About 10 seconds after they entered they heard three shots in rapid succession deep in the building. They walked briskly down a long hallway with distractions on all sides including bodies of students and teachers. A young girl shot in the stomach cried out in pain, “Help me, help me.” They had been trained to focus on the shooter and glanced at her briefly before continuing down the hall.
The natural response was to help someone in pain. However if they spent as little as 60 seconds tending to this one girl, as many as a dozen more students could be shot.
For this drill I was acting as a wounded student slumped at a desk in a classroom the shooter had entered to reload. There were wounded and dead students in the room as well as the highly agitated gunman who reloaded after shooting us and waited in ambush for the approaching officers.
The first officer entered the room and was shot by the gunman. His partner entered and engaged in a brief but furious gun battle with about two dozen shots fired by all parties in under three seconds. In the middle of the firing I heard the police instructor yell, “breathe!”
After the shooting stopped, the gunman was “dead.” The first officer was “wounded.” I had been “shot” twice in the back and two other students had been shot in the legs. The weapons were real and loud. We had eye protection, but the plastic projectiles did leave a mark. It was as realistic a scenario as could be had without someone being seriously injured. The officer who shot me was clearly traumatized by the experience. The instructor consoled him. “That’s why we train,” he explained and repeated “Breathe, breathe.”
From time of entry to engaging the shooter was about two minutes.
Another team arrived about one minute after the first and engaged an additional shooter on the second floor. Several minutes after that, I was given first aid in place and eventually “evacuated” to a triage area by the EMTs.
Just like an actual shooting, the event itself was over quickly, but the debriefing took over an hour. “What did we do right? What did we learn? How can we go faster? Remember to breathe.”
The officer shot while entering the classroom was Black. The officer behind him shot the gunman, two students and me. He also was Black. All the victims and the shooter were White. I’m pretty sure neither officer was racist. Both were just doing their jobs while scared to death.