Panic erupted on Friday at Pine Eagle Charter school in rural Oregon when two masked men carrying handguns burst into a teachers’ lounge and opened fire.
After the initial chaos, the terrified teachers realized the guns were firing blanks and that they were the subject of an unannounced shooter drill.
The little school in Halfway, Oregon was having an in-service day, so the children were at home at the time of the drill. The terrifying action has drawn criticism from many but Principal Cammie DeCastro has defended it, saying, ”For us not to know how we were going to respond is leaving us open”.
Principal Cammie DeCastro said it became clear very quickly just how many of the school’s 15 teachers would have survived. The answer: “Not many,” she said.
Elementary teacher Morgan Gover, 31, said only two teachers would have lived to tell the tale. She admitted being scared, and also acknowledged she would have been among the casualties, having taken several fake direct hits from the shooters.
“I’ll tell you, the whole situation was horrible,” she said. “I got a couple in the front and a couple in the back.”
The surprised staff had received training from the Union County Sheriff’s Office on active shooter scenarios. They had been told they had some options, such as not rushing out of their classrooms when gunfire erupted, and locking and barricading their doors.
They weren’t expecting a drill like this, and they were caught by surprise when the two men entered and began firing.
“There was some commotion,” DeCastro said.
The goal of the drill was to learn how people would react, so better emergency plans could be made, she said. (source)
In light of the fear-mongering by the mainstream media after the Sandy Hook school shooting last December, some people feel that this “drill” increases fearfulness.
The school administration plans to take what they’ve learned from the drill to better prepare.
The district’s Safety Committee and the School Board now will critically evaluate policies and procedures and decide what to do next, said DeCastro.
Armed teachers is one possible outcome, she said. Or the district may get armed and trained volunteers from the community to watch over the school in shifts, she said. Tougher doors and better locks are other options.
Had one of the teachers in that lounge already taken the time to prepare, the unannounced drill could have had tragic results.