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The Wayne County school shooter scenario

by WayneTimes.com
April 8, 2023

The Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, occurred when two teens went on a shooting spree, killing 13 people and wounding more than 20 others, before turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide.

That event was followed by numerous other school shooting  repeat events over the decade, where a disgruntled, mentally unstable, or person with a quasi agenda entered often-random school buildings with weapons, looking to up the tole.

Soon after Columbine, now Wayne County Sheriff Rob Milby approached then Sheriff Dick Pisciotti with a request. Rob wanted to attend national active shooter training programs. He saw the writing on the wall for future of student safety.

The classes, teaching active shooter scenarios where law enforcement would be put under the pressure and high stress situations.

Over  the years since, just about every school district and numerous business, church buildings and county office locations throughout Wayne County have been stages for police drills. 

The purpose is to familiarize responding officers with building layouts as well various situations that can arise at an active shooter response.

"Much of what you see in other news events is exactly what we train for. The training is ongoing and ever changing to address different aspects", said Sheriff Milby.

Without mass shooting training, things can go terribly wrong. In June of 2022, a shooter gunned down 19 children and two teachers in a massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, two days before summer break.

Armed with a rifle, the 18-year-old barricaded himself inside adjoining classrooms, where he shot and killed children and their teachers who tried to protect them.

The lack of a coordinated response, led to a bloody crime scene, up to 19 officers were in the hallway but did not storm the classrooms because the commanding officer mistakenly believed the “active shooter” portion of the attack had ended. 

Col. Steven McCraw, who heads the Texas Department of Public Safety, said  following the event. Most of the shots were heard in the initial minutes of the siege, with later outbursts seemingly directed at the door.

“Of course, it was not the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that.”

In contrast, three children and three adult staff members were killed at Covenant School in one of Tennessee’s deadliest school shootings. Audrey Hale, age  28, entered the school at about 10:11 a.m.  on March 30th. The quick response and training of three advancing officers led to  taking down Hale about 14 minutes later. 

Video footage shows a time line from when Hale first got to the school until police fired the fatal shots. 

"It is obvious to me, as a trainer, that those officers responded to their training and saved a lot of lives", said Sheriff Milby.

Currently, all Wayne County  Deputies, including local police departments officers, along with e State Police, probation officers and school administrations are trained in basic response.

So, who is in command? Wayne County is in a closest call situation. The first agency to respond takes the lead, and are trained on what to expect and able to communicate between agencies.

This includes the eight current SRO’s (School Response Officers) the Sheriff’s Office now has in place, with 11 more positions within schools that have not yet been filled.

Milby stressed the importance of the SRO’s training and assessments in spotting potential students in crisis, or problems within the schools.

The education component  requires that schools are state mandated and must train in lock down drills with students in place.

All officers carry side arms and once trained patrol rifles, including AR15 type weapons are outfitted in police vehicles.

Responding officers are trained to head towards the sound of gunshots. Additional training is emphasized for target discrimination, color contrast, movement and discerning what is and what is not a threat. "Training is a coordinated event. It is critical a responding officer does not become a part of the problem," added Sheriff Milby.

Last week the Lyons Central School District Superintendent received and e-mail, stating there was a bomb in one of the school buildings.

Ironically, the school was already shut down for Spring break and no students were at the schools. "It kind of shows it was not someone local," quipped the Sheriff.

Also ironically, there was an police active shooting drill going on in Lyons schools when the report came in. As a precaution, four nitrate detecting dogs were brought in and all the buildings searched.

So, how do police agencies prepare  and investigate for such threats?

Currently the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has an officer training for the past two months, specializing in computer capabilities and search techniques. The state and federal governments are supplying thousands of dollars in forensic training and equipment.

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