‘While it looked and sounded real, it was only a drill.’
By Cody Shepard
(Jul. 26, 2016)
STOUGHTON – It was a situation Stoughton police say they never want to face.
“Control, I’ll be off at the Dawe school with an active shooter,” an officer said over the radio in an urgent manner. “I’m at the front door. I’m taking shots. Shots fired, shots fired. Get me some help up here.”
While it looked and sounded real, it was only a drill. It aimed to prepare the town’s public safety agencies in the event a similar situation ever occurs in town.
The training video was released Friday by Stoughton Media Access Corporation. The exercise was performed by the Stoughton police, fire, public works and school departments.
Several officers arrived at the school and saw a cruiser near the front entrance, with smoke around it.
“It was to give them a focal point and some visual stimulus to raise their heart rate, really get them experiencing any tunnel vision if they’re going through auditory exclusion and make it as real for them as possible,” said Stoughton police Patrolman Jonathan Gagne, a member of the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council SWAT team.
The officers entered the building from various doors and created a diamond formation. As they moved throughout the building together, they found multiple victims — laying in hallways and sitting in doorways — bleeding and suffering from various injuries.
The victims pointed the officers down different hallways, which eventually led them to the classroom the shooter was in.
“It’s all on the shooter’s shoulders,” Stoughton police interim Lt. John Bonney said, referring to whether police will use lethal force. “Once that threat is eliminated, we need to now then look for more threats. We only got the call for one shooter, but we can’t just believe that and go on that one shooter. We won’t be able to get medical care to anybody if we’re taken out by a shooter, so we need to get the threat eliminated first.”
The police have previously performed such drills, but this training exercise was the first time the fire department was involved.
“Police in schools have been training and the fire department’s been out in left field with it,” said Stoughton Fire Capt. Mike Carroll. “We really need to get on board with it. It’s real world, it’s what’s happening.”
The officials who participated say they hope it’s the realest active shooter situation they ever face.
“You can’t ever deal with something like that,” Bonney said. “When we’re running by these people, they’re screaming, ‘Don’t leave us, help us.’ That’s something you’re never going to recover from.”