Students and staff at Newark Catholic High School heard gunshots in the hallways and screams for help Wednesday afternoon.
It was part of an active shooter training exercise that involved police and paramedics.
Even though everyone knew it was coming, the live-fire exercise was jarring.
Ian Stacey, a senior at the High School, was in a chemistry class. “Once I heard the gunshots it was like – adrenaline and felt a lot more real than it was and was actually kind of scary,” Stacey said. “We took a bunch of the tables, big chemistry tables and pushed them up against the door.”
In the training scenario, the shooter enters the building and opens fire, walking up and down hallways shooting students and staff. An announcement is made on the school intercom along with information of the gunman’s location. Some students are able to run from the building. Others barricaded themselves in classrooms.
Bob Smith, School Safety Coordinator, said hearing the gunshots was very disturbing. “We were prepared for it,” Smith said. “We knew it was coming but still the reality kind of set in.”
Newark Fire Chief Patrick Connor said an exercise like this can help identify any weaknesses in training. “You put yourself out there a little bit when you have a training like this because we haven’t had a full-scale training,” Connor said. “However, society is calling for this at some level. We just want to be prepared as much as we can as we move forward in the future.”
As the exercise played out, police officers made entry, located and “neutralized” the shooter.
Police Sgt. Doug Wells said the initial review of the event was positive. “From the first shot fired to the last victim out that was able to get out was about 18 minutes which is pretty quick in this day and age,” Wells said.
And for students, Ian Stacey said the exercise made a real impression. “I think it was very important because honestly, if it had actually happened and we didn’t have this and didn’t drill like this and i didn’t kind of know it was a drill, I wouldn’t have any idea what to do.”