Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector
“If the only people who have guns are us and the bad guys, it makes it easier for us to respond.”
Lt. Chris Sutton
ECU Police Department
By Katherine Ayers
Friday, July 12, 2013
With one victim shot, a group of four police officers in bulletproof vests, helmets and eye protection made their way through the fifth floor of Tyler Residence Hall on East Carolina University’s campus on Thursday looking for the suspect.
Gunfire rang out, a second victim was shot, and police identified a second suspect as they continued the search for the first gunman.
After a few tense minutes, police found both shooters and neutralized them as threats.
“Stop scenario! Stop scenario!”
At that command, all “victims” and officers raised their hands, and the officers and gunmen holstered their weapons. Fortunately, the situation was staged.
Participants were part of an Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training designed to teach officers how to respond to an active shooter on campus, according to ECU Police Lt. Chris Sutton.
“It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but when,” he said. “If it does, we want to prepare in order to stop the threat.”
During the ALERRT training, officers from ECU and UNC Wilmington learned about shooting and moving, room entry techniques, approaching and breaching a crisis site, and improvised explosive devices in an effort to be prepared in the event the staged scenario ever becomes real.
During Thursday’s exercises, participants used handguns with blue paintball rounds.
“This way you get the pain of being shot, plus you see where the rounds go,” Sutton said. “You see if you shot true or if you missed.”
All participants wore pants and long-sleeve shirts, gloves, a bulletproof vest, face protection and a helmet. Sutton said all the gear is deliberate.
“The helmet is uncomfortable, and makes it hard to see which simulates the ‘tunnel vision’ officers have (during a crisis event),” Sutton said. “The long sleeves and body armor raise the body temperature to add to the adrenaline dump they’re experiencing.”
Sutton said there are about 10 different scenarios, each with more or less information given at the outset.
In the situation described above, officers were told they were responding to one student who had been shot in a dormitory and one student in the same dorm who was unaccounted for. They were initially looking for one suspect. When they responded, they found the first victim on the ground in the hallway, and the suspect in front of them.
As the scenario progressed, a second victim stepped into the hallway behind the officers, raised his arms and was shot by a second suspect who retreated into a room.
“The priority of the officers was to respond to the first threat,” Sutton said. “The second threat came out to make sure they were focused on both the front and the rear.”
Sutton said ECU’s police force has trained in classrooms, dorms and administration buildings in an effort to be ready for anything.
A bill working its way through the N.C. House of Representatives could allow people with carry concealed handgun permits to leave guns in their vehicle on campus, provided the vehicle was locked. ECU police have come out against the bill, and Sutton said any extra guns on campus would create unnecessary confusion.
“Thirty percent of officer-involved shootings happen when one of the officers is in plain clothes and (a uniformed officer) mistakes them for the shooter,” he said. “If the only people who have guns are us and the bad guys, it makes it easier for us to respond.”
Contact Katherine Ayers at firstname.lastname@example.org and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.
via The Daily Reflector.